Santa Cruz in Words

Posted on June 17th, 2004 in Tour | Tags: tour

The Quintet performed at the quaint Kuumbwa Jazz Center. Wynton hadn’t performed with a small group there since 1981 when he was playing with Art Blakey. The hall begs to be a “small, smokey jazz club,” but it isn’t small enough or smokey enough. Though it serves as a fine West Coast jazz establishment.

Kevin Lee our venerable magician opened the show and warmed up the crowd. He made a beer bottle disappear in a plastic bag, made a rubber dove appear, and performed his laudable “cracker” trick. Ask him to show you if you see him.

I walked into the Green Room and saw Mr. Marsalis peeking through the curtains to see why the audience was in stitches. He walked out of the green room to get a better look at Kev finishing up his act. Then the show began…

…and what a show it was.

“You and Me,” a song from “The Magic Hour” brought tapping feet into the combo. The song starts with the quintent clapping out rhythm, and the piece reverts back to clapping quite regularly. “Top Professor” E. Lewis played a brilliant solo during this piece. The audience became quieter than a teenager sneaking through the house at 3 AM. E. Lewis’s hands started to stutter on the same eighth note pattern, then hiccup violently into the 16th note pattern. “Did he have his seatbelt on” I wondered. Every musical incantation, Mr. Lewis gently pushed upwards, off his seat. On the final composition, Mr. Lewis wowed the crowd, with his usual slow ascent to the musical stratosphere. Only to be welcomed by three folks who gave a standing ovation in the middle of the solo.

With ten fans vibrating up above, trying to keep the hot jazz from heating up the room, the inevitable occurred…things got really hot. After intermission, the black Yamaha piano was re-tuned and returned to its homeostasis after E. Lewis pounded and thumped them to dissonance.

In the back of the hall, folks asked for chips and salsa, pies, and spirits. It was a festive atmosphere. Clearly, E. Lewis enhanced the performance by his breathtaking solos.