The personnel includes Farnell (The Professor) Newton on flugelhorn/trumpet, Jarrod (J-Law) Lawson on keyboards/vocals, and Tyrone (Ty-licious) Hendrix on drums.
Farnell draws from Portland's best musicians and Thursday night was witness to that. Jarrod Lawson is a member of SoulMates and Tyrone Hendrix is a member of Stevie Wonder's band and also plays with Liv Warfield in Portland. Farnell himself is professor of jazz at Portland State University and is one of Portland's first-call horn players.
The appreciative audience was treated to an opening number from Stevie Wonder entitled Golden Lady from the 1973 album Innervisions. Farnell supplanted vocals with his smooth flugelhorn. His tone was almost pure and provided moving lyricism. Tyrone is a master of funk and can lay down the coolest, funkiest grooves while giving Jarrod's kicking bass a great rhythm partner.
One Mo 'Gin featured Tyrone's funky hiccup beats as Farnell switched to trumpet from flugelhorn. The trumpet allowed for the raw sound that Farnell was seeking and succeeded in finding. Jarrod moved the audience as always with his soulful vocals and elicited finger-pointing from Tyrone behind the drums.
The third number was Cruisin' and showed Tyrone as a true soul drummer. His half-stops punctuated Farnell's hot trumpet licks while Jarrod did his best (and succeeded) at making you forget Smokey Robinson's version. But Jarrod's most astonishing moment was coming up next.
Eryka Badu's Didn't Cha Know was perhaps the showcase of the evening. The link below is the original version and is a remarkable song but try not get distracted by the video itself. Listen to the incredible music.
If you listened to the music in the video above, then you understand the demanding vocals. Now, we have heard Jarrod do irresistable versions of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway and other great male vocalists. But to hear him perform Eryka Badu's song demanded him to reach the stratosphere and he was indeed stratospheric. Later in the evening he performed a Roberta Flack song and was equally amazing... but this... For me, it was the stand-out song of the night.
Jarrod's sanctified vocals continued into Bilal's When Will You Call and he was framed by the rolling stops of Tyrone and the blistering horn of Professor Farnell. Farnell has such great instincts in highlighting and accompanying his bandmates. He doesn't overpower but plays beneath and alongside. When he solos, however, he burns it down. He did on this number, for certain.
Everything is Clear is from Farnell's Class is Now in Session CD. It was co-written by Farnell, Jarrod and Steveland Swatkins. This is a great composition. It grabs the listener and the musician alike. Tyron was adding unmiked backing vocals as Jarrod sang the lead.
Tyrone's big smile is always an indicator of his appreciation and enjoyment of what is going on in any performance. His smile never left his face on Thursday night. He put on a drumming soul/funk perfomance to be envied. It was certainly appreciated by the audience at DOT COM.
A quick word about DOT COM Bar and Restaurant. It enjoyed its Grand Opening in January of this year and has already been the venue for great funk and soul in Portland. It could easily become the heir to the historic Candlelight Cafe and Bar, which met its fate at the hands of Portland's Tri-Met in April of 2012. The sound system is good and the sound for the audience is great. It has pool tables and a large bar, like the Candlelight. It has a very friendly staff, like the Candlelight. It is in a rather industrial district but that means there are no worries about sound ordinance violations. This is a great place for music. There is a real welcoming feeling as soon as you walk in.
After the intermission, Soul3 returned for George Clinton's Stay as Jarrod and Farnell intoned together while Tyrone turned up the funk and put on a real show. He is a charming and gracious man and is great fun to watch.
Knocks Me Off My Feet is always performed amazingly well by Jarrod. That comes as no surprise. But it was Farnell's flugelhorn solo that sit so well with Jarrod's vocals. That was continued right into What We Do for Love and I Wish. The former containing wondrous cymbalism from Tyrone and the latter featured a growling horn solo from Farnell.
The growl became a pur in the intro to Roberta Flack's That's the Time (I Feel Like Making Love). Of course, if Jarrod could flawlessly handle the Eryka Badu song, this was little challenge, but it was sweet and memorable all the same.
The evening concluded with Can't Hide Love and showcased Farnell's cool flugelhorn lead and Tyrone's mean, rapid-fire stick work. It was brought together by the powerful voice of Jarrod and was brought to conclusion by the lock-step of all three of Soul3. Well, almost lock-step as they pulled off a triple ending. They ended rousingly which is exactly the feeling you want for your drive home.
These three are gifted and fun-loving and worthy to be heard. The thing is, my wife and I almost missed the performance. We would have truly regretted it. We needed to be there and I'm glad we were.