The SoulMates are simply incomparable in the reinterpretation of soul standards and they are uniquely adept at the transformation of music from other genres into soul tunes. Paul Simon's 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover is one of the best examples of this type of transformation performed by the SoulMates. Paul Simon does not write soul tunes but they become such under the loving ministrations of the SoulMates.
Jarrod has been described with "everything he touches turns to soul." Certainly this is true in his vocals and keyboard performances. Witness his treatment of Stevie Wonder's I Wish below.
Each member is a stand-alone musician of great talent. In the Portland music scene, there is just no better drummer than Reinhardt. Even Tyrone Hendricks called out one night, "That's my teacher!"
There is nobody who even comes close to Jarrod's vocals. Just ask Liv Warfield who tweeted that "Jarrod Lawson is the truth!" And it is always remiss of me that I do not say enough of Jarrod's keyboard playing. But it is so easy to get caught up in vocals that one forgets what his fingers are doing at the same time--playing melody and providing that kicking bass.
The "Bird" is far and above any guitarist anywhere. The crime is that he is never mentioned by music fans as the consummate guitarist that he is. He can be favorably compared to... well, you name anyone you care to name. But ask musicians... and they rave about him. One Portland Arts writer has spoken of "Bird" in the same glowing terms as T-Bone Burnett or John Prine. Now, if you don't know those names, it just proves the point. Both of those are musicians who refuse to be boxed into a single
In other words, the SoulMates are individually the best at their position. They create layers of sound and technique that enhance each other and create an ever-upward-movement that carries the listener along with them. Perhaps a better description than trio is triad. A triad is a three note chord that builds upon a root tone and adds tones at major or minor third intervals giving the three tones identified as the root, the third and the fifth. They are played together and they create a chord that is dependent upon its distinction for its beauty. Played together, it is much more satisfying for the hearer. It is challenging and rewarding.
What I am saying with that little music theory lesson is that the SoulMates build upon each other in unique ways with each member being essential to the sound of the whole. Imagine them without that propulsion supplied by Reinhardt and All Day Sucker just loses its drive. Without Jarrod, Cruisin' would be better heard on the radio and just leave it to Smokey Robinson because J-Law's vocals paw at the heart and even restates standard tunes better than the originals. Without Jay "Bird" there
is just not going to be the journey into musical revelation; no quest into the realm of technique and tone, style and sound. "Bird" has learned and teaches the crucial idea of character in musical performance. I am speaking of personal character within the context of group dynamics.
I have heard the "Bird" speak of being aware regarding what is happening around you and making space for the others in the group. As I once quoted, the legendary Mel Brown said "I've played with Jay in a variety of settings, and he handles them all with sensitivity and finesse. He listens so well!"
This is the results of character. One of the "Bird's" commandments is "Bring the love into the group dynamics." And this has become the underscoring
characteristic of the SoulMates: the love for the music, the love for the sound, the love for each other and the love for those who listen with love all translates into love's powerful partner. Respect.
Lao Tzu was correct. "When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, respect abounds."
The SoulMates have deep respect for each other and it shows. They are never in competition and they do not compare
themselves with each other or anyone else because they have developed that sense of being themselves. Being in harmony with their own individuality has engendered the harmony of the trio...or triad... maybe even trinity.
It is not an example of the sum being greater than the value of its parts. Rather, it is that the individuals transcend their individual uniqueness to become supremely unique as a part of a separate wholeness. So, without harm or offense, we can borrow such a theological term as "trinity" to describe the reality of this trio.
I could go off into a theological comparison of the musicians and the theological trinity but that would bore you to tears and land me in trouble with popes and pianists, dervishes and drummers... so catch me alone one night and I'll tell you all about it. But my point, and I really do have a point, is that the individual character of Jay "Bird", Jarrod and Reinhardt has allowed them an openness to each other in love and respect and it draws them and their listeners into something wondrous and humbling.
They make room for each other. They encourage each other. Like a trinity, they envelope all that surrounds them, as well. It is something special that many cannot understand. Or choose not to.
The SoulMates are a study in surrendering one's ego in favor of another and in favor of something beyond themselves. There is a generosity in their musicianship and in their character. There is that profound respect. It is a study in being human. To step aside in respect to another, to speak (or play) when it is right to speak, to keep silent when silence is louder than sound, and to know the difference is born out of humility and respect and loving harmony.
Is it too much to say that the SoulMates make me want to be a better human being? Maybe but the music of the soul draws us upward and outward, beyond ourselves and I want to do for others what the music of the SoulMates does for me.