The food is great and the service is very good. We didn't go for the food, of course, but rather to see Reinhardt and Jarrod. The food was a very pleasant surprise. While the space for the musicians was tight they were admirably placed within full view of the restaurant patrons. The acoustics carried well. Touche has done a fine job making room for the musicians.
It is always a pleasure to see these two in whatever line-up they may find themselves. But when SoulMates or 2/3 SoulMates are together, the wonderful happens. Sadly, we had arrived late but Jarrod and Reinhardt played late and I didn't feel quite so bad. Just being in the same room with these gentlemen is pleasure enough but to hear them perform the way they do is pleasure beyond compare.
From the sad to the laid-back with Otis Redding's Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay, the mood is lightened to a wistfully lazy tune. It delightfully prepares the way for the wistfully sexy tune of Smokey Robinson's hit Cruisin'. Sexy to the extent that the brilliant and lovely Tracey Harris, a phenomenal singer in her own right, sat languidly with eyes closed as she drank in the sound. Now to captivate Tracey Harris with your singing, you have to have some major mojo in your favor.
However, she was also watching Reinhardt. She would open one eye to catch what he was doing and would usually just shake her head in astonishment...like the rest of us.
The surprise of the night for me was the old jazz standard that Reinhardt and Jarrod pulled out for the Touche audience. I have heard them do Gershwin's Summertime and that is an old standard, to be sure. The jolt was in their choice of an old Frank Sinatra hit, written by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, called I Fall in Love Too Easily. The song was written in 1944 and became a hit when Sinatra sang it in the 1945 movie Anchors Aweigh.
It just goes to prove what I have always believed and written about Jarrod Lawson--he can handle any style and he is not intimidated by the fact that it was Sinatra or anyone else who originated the hit. He takes on Stevie Wonder...and wins...or D'Angelo or Smokey or Bilal or even Eryka Badu. The secret is the conversion of the song from the original to his own styling of it. He can make any song work. As has been so often of Jarrod, "Everything he touches turns to soul."
But Reinhardt does the same thing. The next song is a good example of that. Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover has that distinctive Steve Gadd groove which becomes the hook of the song from the beginning. In fact, it has been written that Gadd sold the song before Paul Simon even started singing. A good drummer can do that. Alan White's opening on the YES song Sound Chaser (from the album Relayer) comes to mind.
Reinhardt remains faithful to the Gadd groove at the opening but he pulls the rug from beneath Gadd's feet by turning the conclusion of the song into a samba. The original beat was the hook but Reinhardt's finish is an even bigger payoff. And he does it over and over.
The Colour of the Day was recorded by Remy Shands almost ten years ago before his disappearing act. If he has heard Jarrod's version, he will probably remain in hiding. Despite all the hoopla surrounding the original and all the awards and nominations Shands received, the original always left me a bit flat. Jarrod and Reinhardt pull the song, kicking and screaming, to a much higher level than ever before.
They even do that to my beloved Donny Hathaway. I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know now belongs to SoulMates, or any portion of SoulMates thereof, because Jarrod understands Donny so well. I don't mean the problems that poor Donny suffered; I mean he understands what Donny is trying to say. And Jarrod says it in Jarrod's own way. As I've said before, SoulMates have made me get clean out my record collection because those records have been rendered irrelevant by the superior SoulMates treatment.
Even in the midst of a great restaurant, a rowdy funk song is toned down to appease but intrigue the listeners. If You Want Me to Stay has moments of real power funk but Jarrod and Reinhardt strip it down to almost a ballad. It is the craft of fitting the piece to the audience and setting. It is the craft of musicianship. It is not pandering, it is propriety.
This is what true musicians do; they elevate without overwhelming. Jarrod and Reinhardt can educate while they are inspiring. They can raise the spirit and warm the heart and stimulate the brain. They create a complete experience centered on the music of the soul. We are made better by the music.
This is why we see so many people at the various performances and incarnations of SoulMates. There sits Randy Corby, Tracey Harris is sitting close to Reinhardt and we grab the table nearest them. We all want to be made better through the touch of their music... and we are never disappointed, even when it is 2/3 of them.