The second song was a foray “down to New Orleans” as Jay “Bird” promised. From there we were taken on “Butterfly” wings to Tom Coster’s “Moonflower.” The Bird was just on fire and his guitar was the torch. The instrumentals were graceful and moving. It was what Aristotle called “katharsis”; a purification of emotion and everyone, so it seemed, enjoyed the emotional rapture. For when Jay “Bird” announced that the SoulMates were “just getting warmed up,” one young woman in the audience responded with “My God, you’re not even warmed up yet???”
The band responded with those sweet vocals. “I’ll Stay” was followed by “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” I must confess that I am not nor have I ever been a Paul Simon fan. Sure, he’s talented and all that but taste is taste and he has just never really appealed to me. With that disclaimer, the SoulMates have taken that song and have made it into something utterly soulful and satisfying. I have even gone back to listen to the original version… to no avail, though. I still don’t like the original. Sorry.
All this is only prelude to the great movement found in Jay “Bird”s own composition entitled “I Could Be the Man for You.” If the SoulMates were ever to release singles, this would have to be the first one. Bird’s guitar just takes off and Jarrod’s vocals are so rich. Once again, the only fitting word to describe is “satisfying.” Jacob, the Candlelight’s oldest patron, answers the song in a call and response form with “JayBIRD! JayBIRD! I hear ya!” (This is why only one in attendance can fully understand)
At this point, it was noticed that trumpeter Paul Mazzio, alto saxman Chris Brown and vocalist Paul Creighton were in the audience. An exciting evening was in store.
“Cruisin’” was the next offering and “Bird”s guitar solo was like a journey into the 11th dimension. [The 11th dimension is where string theory coalesces into a possible theory of everything. Guitar solo…string theory…get it? Nevermind.]
Sure enough, Paul Creighton joined the SoulMates for two great songs. The first was “What’s Going On” which is one of the greatest prophetic songs of all time and Jarrod and Paul delivered on this song. After all, who cannot be moved by lyrics such as:
“Father, Father/We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer/For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way/To bring some lovin' here today.”
From the prophetic to the poetic, Jarrod and Paul combined again for “All I Do (Thinking About You).” The results were electric and ecstatic! It was a fitting ending to the evening’s first set.
The second set seems to get better with every passing week! This week was no exception as Paul Mazzio added his trumpet and Chris Brown brought along his alto sax. From Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September” to Gershwin’s “Summertime” to finish up with Stevie Wonder’s “All Day Sucker,” this ensemble satisfied the most jaded of listeners.
Yes, Jarrod and Paul had sung “Only love can conquer hate” but tonight also witnessed musicianship conquering mediocrity, joy conquering grief, and as always friendship conquering separation.
As we sat in the audience and we drank from the cup of musical unity, strangers simply enjoyed being in each other’s company. Owners and managers from other clubs join together to hear the SoulMates after their own spots have closed. Musicians from other bands come together to listen and take part. As happens every Monday night at the Candlelight, everyone is drawn together as soul mates.
Only respect and love can make that happen—only Jay “Bird” Koder and the SoulMates can make that happen and it happens whenever and wherever they gather together.
As Jay “Bird” always says, “we’re going to join you for some cocktails and come back after the break.”
And so will I…