Rich Lawrence, clean-shaven as if he were in an Olympic swimming event, was sitting in for Reinhardt Melz who will be returning from his Occupy Amboy/European Tour sojourn. Rich was in great form and the trio played with energy and excitement. Was that Bacchus standing in the corner?
Peter and Tracy, everyone’s favorite dance couple, had returned after a long absence and their return was like a return of the blossoms in spring. Everyone was ready to dance. The mood was reflected and then enhanced by The SoulMates’ moving version of “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers.
Once again, the musical firmament was starry at the Candlelight with wonderful singers and instrumentalists coming to join the trio to explore the depths of soul in all of its aspects. From trumpet great Paul Mazzio to Sieda to Darlene Solomon-Rogers aka Blacque Butterfly with her musical partner Arietta Ward-Scroggins whom Jarrod collectively introduced as “The Mary Jane Girls.”
Paul Mazzio sat in on several numbers through the night. Mazzio studied at that Mecca of jazz education, the University of North Texas, and has played with such diverse acts as the Woody Hermann Orchestra, Gino Vanelli, Larry Carlton and the Moody Blues! His horn additions to the trio were electric! His solos advanced the music so well and his support playing added great body.
Dancers were on the floor all night through each and every number performed by The SoulMates. Late in the night, Jay “Bird” turned to Jarrod and said, “I guess we are a dance band.” Jarrod’s response was, “As much as we try not to be…” It seems Bacchus was having his way.
The lovely soul of Sieda joined Jarrod’s vocals for a creation of something beautiful. She is so personally charming and her smile is worth a million dollars. She is a joy to watch and hear. It was especially gratifying to hear her duo with Jarrod on Gershwin’s Summertime, which has to be considered one of the greatest vocal songs of all time, and she remained to sing Nothing Ever Matters.
If one were only able to stay for the first set, the musical experience would have been complete. Grief would have given way to joy and Bacchus would take all the credit. But the second set brought revelation…
After the intermission, “the Mary Jane Girls” joined the SoulMates and Paul Mazzio for a thrilling, jazzy treatment of Steve Miller’s Fly Like an Eagle. Then Orietta (Etta) Ward-Scroggins turned poetry into socio-political prophecy. There is a power in words and Etta demonstrated that fact with soul-stirring effect. The vocal delivery was moving and it was punctuated by the guitar of Maestro Jay “Bird” Koder. The finale What We Do for Love kept the dancers going until the end. It was emotional. It was powerful. One old gentleman in the audience could only keep shouting “Jay-BIRD, Jay-BIRD…!” Everyone understood—nothing else needed to be said. Although at one point the old gentleman looked at Darlene and said “I would do anything for love!” To which she responded, “I bet you would, Daddy!”
Wine, music and dance gave way to Joy, Understanding and Friendship by the end of the SoulMates’ second set and Bacchus was on the run. Both sets needed to be experienced. Joy without Understanding fades. Joy and Understanding together produce Friendship. There is a profound reason why they are called The SoulMates.
As Jay “Bird” always says, we’re going to join you for some cocktails and we’ll be back…
And so will I.