Only 16 hours before, we had seen Jarrod performing with SoulMates as the special guests for Robert Glasper Experiment at the Star Theater in Portland. At the same time, Reinhardt had been performing with the Bobby Torres Ensemble at Jimmy Mak's (causing Chris Matthews to sit in for him with SoulMates) and Toshi was at his other regular gig. Now the three were sitting together ready to regale.
As I have said before, Reinhardt Melz has shown that he can play any style and play it effectively. From the Afro-Cuban and jazz rhythms used in SoulMates, to the Latin Jazz with Bobby Torres Ensemble to the Pop, Rock and R&B stylings of Gino Vanelli; Reinhardt is master of it all.
Toshi Onizuka is a brilliant guitarist of flamenco fame but takes that influence to create truly unique impressions of bossa nova, samba, jazz and more jazz that is not heard anywhere else. Inspired by Paco de Lucia and Jay "Bird" Koder, Toshi strikes out in new directions and creates music that is energetic (like de Lucia) and emotional (like Koder).
But Sunday afternoon at the Paragon, however, saw no microphone in front of Jarrod. His keyboard skills have always been overlooked because of his vocal talent and I am as guilty as anyone for this unintended slight.
His keyboard skills are amazing. SoulMates use no bass player because Jarrod supplies the kicking bass with his left hand often leaving audiences to ask "Where is the bass player?" Someone once shouted from the audience, "Where is the bass coming from?" Jarrod smiled and raised his left hand in response.
He has played blues and soul and has played them well but this was our chance to see Jarrod's keyboard work stand on its own without the delightful distraction of his vocals. I'll admit, I was hopefully optimistic and... I was not disappointed. He was adaptive to music he had not rehearsed or even heard before. They performed standards together such as Gentle Rain and Girl from Ipanema but it was in the performance of Toshi's original Light in Shade that Jarrod's adaptability and improvisation really showed itself.
In Gentle Rain, Toshi faded out the song to Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water and Jarrod didn't miss a beat. He caught on fast that this was flying by the seat of the pants. As Redinhardt played an exquisite drum solo, Toshi accompanied with the flemenco hand-clap and Jarrod joined right in with a syncopated clap. He must have been feeling right at home because he made each transition with ease and apparent enjoyment.
The CD is Toshi's follow-up to his 2008 release Voy Con Fusion.
This and Toshi's new CD can be purchased wherever he is appearing or it can be purchased for download or the physical CD at CDBaby through the following link:
All of this set for a joyful and heart-warming afternoon and evening at the Paragon Restaurant. After the performance, members of the audience were treated to conversation and laughter with the musicians as everyone enjoyed the Paragon's warm hospitality and the best calimari in town. And don't forget the tiramisu.