The second instrumental was a sweet, airy number that was a strong set-up for Bourbon Street, the SoulMates' original instrumental. This is a New Orleans heartbeat instrumental that begins as a blues-funk number with Bird cranking out a raw guitar solo. Reinhardt contributed to the blues feel with a pounding heartbeat rhythm as Jarrod created a churchy keyboard movement that carried alongside Bird's nasty guitar; the Church of St. Nasty.
The third warm-up instrumental (although they didn't need warming up!) was like a summer thunderstorm with Reinhardt's thundering rolls and Bird's lightning guitar as Jarrod created a rainy impression on his keyboard. And all of this was in preparation for what came next...the most moving instrumental ever. Ever.
The song was a send-out to Chieko and the song was Sukiyaki. As I have mentioned in times past, the original was by Ryu Sakamoto and the Japanese title is translated "I Shall Walk Looking Up." It was a fitting song on this emotional evening. The performance was sterling and may have very well been Bird's finest version of this song. As Bird strolled into the audience, he played before Chieko and they bowed to each other in a meaningful and touching way. Jarrod and Reinhardt supported the song with heart-felt dedication and warmth.
When the song concluded, Bird commented to Jarrod and Reinhardt something meaningful but not to be repeated here. It was not profane, it was an expression of sentiment that you would not understand were you not there.
Then SoulMates lit it up again with Moonflower. It was another hot treatment with Bird's wicked guitar solo, Jarrod's cool keys and Reinhardt's barrio beat that added more and more punch to the song.
Our friend, Kitty, was in attendance with us and her eyes grew wide as she watched and heard all that was unfolding before her. She had seen Reinhardt in another setting but this was where he was in his element. Again, the only word was hot! Or maybe caliente.
Below is a YouTube link to a 1977 Santana performance of Moonflower. You will hear the same melody but SoulMates carried this composition to greater heights than even Santana could. I know that you won't believe me, but you need to see SoulMates perform this to understand.
Although the song was written for the love of his life, his charming wife, on Monday night it was performed by all three of our SoulMates in a way that identified them as being there for us. They have always been there for us and they continue to be there for us.
Before the break, the mood was changed back to one of harmony and affection with I Believe in Music, a Mac Davis composition that was carried to the heights by the beloved Donny Hathaway.
"I believe in music, I believe in Love" were fitting words to express the mood of the night and a fine way to close out the first set. SoulMates' version opens and closes with the unforgettable chords of Let it Be.
A short second set was opened by another Hathway treat, I Believe to My Soul. Again, the word hot must be used to describe Bird's bluesy guitar and Reinhardt's slamming drums. Jarrod has worked and re-worked the vocals to perfection. This version is unbelievable.
The next song was introduced by Bird with the words, "This is going out to Travis in an attempt to get that boy on the right track." The song, of course, was Stevie Wonder's unreleased Right Track. It was played with fun and humor and ... it was wonderful.
The evening concluded with All Day Sucker. This is always a fun send-off as Reinhardt cuts loose on this like almost no other song. He ripped into rhythms unimagined and he slashed and crashed through the cymbals and even unleashed a rare "Ahhhhh!" as he brought the audience to their feet. Jay "Bird" acknowledged Reinhardt's performance with "Stop that man before he kills again!" Fun and affection remained in the air.
This was the warmest and most emotional of all SoulMates' performances. I have not seen anything like it before but, I am sure, we will see it again someday.
I love these guys.
When I go from hence, let this be my parting word, that what I have seen is unsurpassable.
~ Rabindranath Tagore