Ok, not really... but the point, of course, is that "the show must go on." And go on it did.
However, they did open the night with five straight instrumentals and this gave Jarrod a lttle rest time. What it also did was highlight Jarrod's work on the keys and that is always satisfying.
The opening instrumental featured some cool guitar and equally cool keyboards and, from there, SoulMates soared into and through original instrumentals like Bacchus and Fly Away.
It is this last piece that stands out and remains one of my very favorites simply for its pure lyricism. The title Fly Away is a fitting description of the soaring guitar that "Bird" allows to take wing. It is full of those moments that just let the listener hang suspended on single notes.
Donny Hathaway's Valdez in the Country was sent out to Mikey G in the audience. There were nice change-up guitar lines and it is easy to get caught up in watching the Bird work his way around the fingerboard of his guitar. Fingering horizontally and vertically, he has the board completely mapped out in his head and he does not get lost. There is no dead-end in a Koder guitar solo.
I mention this because I have seen so-called great guitarists simply lose their way in improvising a solo. I have seen Eddie Van Halen practically come to a stop because he had lost his way. The Bird can fly his way out of any solo. And he flies furiously.
So there, in Valdez in the Country, Jarrod was like Odysseus caught between Bird's Scylla at his bitingly best and Reinhardt's Charybdis with his swirling drum sounds. Jarrod navigated the middle passage and held them both in perfect tension. It was hot.
Moving from his place of safety, Jarrod was then thrust into the deep for his vocals. Remy Shands' Colors of the Day was the first vocal number of the night. Despite the roughness he felt, the vocals were smooth and guitar was on top of it all.
What's Goin' On? continued the vocal voyage and Jarrod can handle this one on any night. I am a big Marvin Gaye fan and SoulMates just own this song. "Talk to me / So you can see / What's goin' on ..." Even layrngitis can't stop this song and Jarrod's ending drizzle kept this one as fresh and soulful as the day Marvin first sang it.
SoulMates have performed September many times but this time was funkier than most and I laughed out loud to hear Bird's drop-in of Shortenin' Bread at the end. Written by poet James Whitcomb Riley in 1900, Shortenin' Bread has been covered by performers from Al Jolson to the Beach Boys to Chris Rock and now finds a fitting place in a Jay "Bird" Koder solo.
Kris Magaurn was the recepient of the next send-out from SoulMates in the form of Cruisin' and the set ended with If You Want Me to Stay. The Sly and the Family Stone original is linked below. Listen to the original bass line and then imagine that line carried by Jarrod's kicking bass on the keyboard.
After the first set, Lance Giles arrived for his first visit to the Blue Diamond since the SoulMates move to their new venue. So the second set opened with one of his favorites and this helped him get over his "two week drought." Once again, it proved the union of SoulMates on-stage and soulmates off-stage. Lance was greeted and treated by people who only know him through a shared love of music but they have become family.
After Just the Two of Us and a voice-resting instrumental for Jarrod, the band closed out the night with All Day Sucker which has become the go-to goodbye song. Mid-way through the song, the young guys in the back of the room began inching their way nearer to the stage to watch Reinhardt. There were big grins all around.
The play from all three SoulMates was astonishing. It was melodic and it was passionate, even the drum solo was melodic. In fact, it was the best drum solo that I have ever witnessed. It was furiously fast but it was melodic. It was complex beyond belief but it was melodic. It swept the crowd with rhythmic pulses and left the audience almost open-mouthed in amazement.
Laryngitis didn't have a chance of winning the night. Jarrod was carried on the shoulders between Reinhardt's flashing sticks and Bird's lightning licks and his own soulful keyboard.
Nothing, it seems, can impede the Sound.