The SoulMates have played other rooms in recent months. They have been to Jimmy Mak's twice (with a third appearance due on March 3, 2012) and have been to Vie de Boheme a few times, as well. They are loved wherever they go, despite the differences mentioned above.
Last night, they were at Arrivederci's, a lovely Italian restaurant and wine bar. It was clear that things were going to be different from the very beginning when Jay "Bird" pulled out his guitar. It was not the ubiquitous Gibson electric but, instead, a beautiful Yamaha acoustic. This was a gift from Yamaha when "Bird" and Reinhardt were playing the Tokyo Cotton Club back in September of last year. Beautiful crafting with beautiful sound and this was the source of the first sounds we heard last night. Then Jarrod joins in with the Fender Rhodes sounds coming from his Yamaha keyboard. [Reinhardt was still on his Gretsch drums... not Yamaha.
The first three numbers were all instrumentals with "Bird" leading the way on that gorgeous guitar. During the "Bird" solo in the second song, Reinhardt broke into a smile as he watched and heard those flying fingers working that guitar. During a later Herbie Hancock tune, Reinhardt and Jarrod exchanged smiles at what was going on which mirrored what everyone in the place was feeling. Dirk Nowitzki, Forward for the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, was in attendance and was grinning ear-to-ear throughout the performance, like everyone else. Jarrod Lawson's mother, his aunt and his wife were in attendance and, of course, loving every minute of it.
During the playing of Bill Withers' Just the Two of Us, "Bird" strolled by one woman during his solo and, so help me, she fell back against her chair and her eyes literally rolled back into her head! People were dancing where there was no dance floor and one table, who had come for the food, stayed glued to their chairs throughout both sets because of the music.
Now, Gershwin's Summertime can just about make anybody faint but, when it is Jarrod singing it, there is no resistance. Even the chattiest audience members were silenced at hearing this. And it only got better...
Because the very next number was to bring something so heart-warming, so personal that I almost chose not to write about it. However, it encapsulates in a moment what I have been trying to describe for months. It started with a John Lennon composition, so it begins on solid ground. Jarrod's mother and wife are both in the audience, remember.
Jay "Bird" calls for the song and Jarrod begins to wonder how he is going to sing this song to these two terrific women in his life. The music takes off beautifully and the song is immediately recognized but it is not the way Lennon did it... not at all. As I have said so often, The SoulMates turn everything into soul.
"Woman I can hardly express
My mixed emotions at my thoughtlessness
After all I'm forever in your debt
And woman I will try to express
My inner feelings and thankfulness
For showing me the meaning of success"
Jarrod later said that he was singing to both these supremely important in his life and maybe he had his mother in mind as he sang the above stanza. But in the second, he was looking at his adorable wife and sang:
"Woman I know you understand
The little child inside of the man
Please remember my life is in your hands
And woman hold me close to your heart
However distant don't keep us apart
After all it is written in the stars"
And Jarrod begins to tear up and his voice breaks as he tries to continue. "Bird" and Reinhardt cover for him until he can resume but, by this time, it is done. He's crying, his wife is crying, my wife is crying, the angels are crying, everybody is crying!
When the song wraps, Jarrod's wife jumps up and comes to Jarrod (who sees her and leaves the keyboard to meet her) and they kiss right there. A collective "Awww..." goes up from the
audience, even from the drunks. And there we were, each and every one totally caught up in
I have heard sappy and sentimental songs and I have seen performers manipulate audiences
with them. But that doesn't happen with The SoulMates. They perform for joy and you feel it. They perform with energy and you feel it. When they perform with love and for love, you can't
miss it. You definitely feel that, too.
Indeed, the evening was filled with energy and joy. There was dancing. There was laughter. But that moment of two sweet people expressing their love, unashamed, in front
of a crowd is the moment that stays with me. Always.