Andaluz Aguas and Agua de Beber led things off. The music was tight but without being crowded. The first piece featured Toshi Onizuka's beautifully phrased Spanish guitar work while the second highlighted a bass solo with faster fingerwork than has been witnessed of Jon Hughes thus far. The syncopated guitar licks gave more of a jazz feel than the normal bossa nova sound of the original.
The super moon may have brought out the lunatics on Saturday but, on Sunday, only the fun remained. It was a summery day and the sunshine was reflected in the music. And the fun was just beginning. We had brought a good friend along with us who had heard us telling great tales of Toshi and Jon and Reinhardt and she wanted to see for herself.
A great deal of the fun for us was watching her enjoy the music as much as we did. We know that we enjoy it and we think that, of course, everyone must enjoy it the same but, to see it in the face of someone else is a great treat. None of us were disappointed. She enjoyed them and we enjoyed her enjoyment.
Reinhardt's brushes were most noticable in Girl from Ipanema while Jon modified his bass away from such heavy bottom. The result was higher pitches which Toshi countered with a growling guitar. The chord changes were intriguing and moving. This is yet another characteristic of Toshi's ever-evolving arrangements. Just when you think you can predict the next measure, everything is modulated or time-shifted or whatever and you are listening to a new song.
Wes Montgomery's Road Song was the next piece and the link to the Montgomery original is found below.
A Flamenco improvisation in 6/8 time followed immediately after with Jon begging for relief from the merciless time. And yet, Jon turns in spotless solo after solo. Harmonic and compelling, Jon's bass work is never a disappointment. Not once.
When the first set ended, our friend said, astonished, "That's it? It's already the end of the set?" We always feel that way, too. We always check the time to see if an hour truly has passed and it always has. The time always flashes by when such fun and musicianship are in play. Plus, summer-style food arrived at the break and the experience heightens.
The second set opened with When You Passed By, a Toshi original. It is the title track of Toshi's new CD which features trio-mates Reinhardt Melz and Jon Hughes. On the CD, the song opens with a slide guitar but Toshi plays the Spanish guitar at Paragon for the entire number. I like it that way, too.
The song Difficult Flower is also from that CD and is a sweet melody. But as said before, Toshi will switch things up by inserting a hard grind in the middle before switching back to delicacy for the outro. Beautifully performed and beautifully appreciated by us and our friend. I think she just might be hooked.
Many things had been switched up at the Paragon on Sunday. The weather was indeed sunny and the tables were set out on the sidewalk. A new menu was also offered. From spicy black beans and tortilla chips to chicken pot pie to the ever-delicious tiramisu, some things remain familar while other things are introduced alongside the standards. The Paragon and the Toshi Onizuka Trio, the perfect fit.
Jon was given a break during the 4/4 timed Wave, also from the latest Toshi CD. With effects, Toshi's acoustic guitar coolly imitates a Hawaiian steel guitar to nice results.
The third set began with my favorite, Light in Shade. Even my favorites are never allowed to remain untouched. Always different, like the meditation it represents. The drums were different, the bass solo different. I cherish this Toshi original. There is always a bit of agony when Toshi plays those chords that assuredly mark the approach of the ending. I love the chord changes but they signal the end and I dread hearing them. But this time, Reinhardt has established a groove that hangs on and he doesn't let go. I find myself thinking, "Hang onto it, Reinhardt! Don't give it up!" Sure enough, a reprieve and they go for another pass. The end is put off for just another moment and it is appreciated!
Blue Eyes was pronounced offensive by blue-eyed Reinhardt. "I want you to know this song offends me," announced Reinhardt. Toshi offered to change the title to "Turquoise Shirt." The fun continued.
And continued at the opening of Black Orpheus when Toshi said "We'll do this one slow," to which Reinhardt responded, "Like this???" and ripped into some warp factor-10 time signature that left the Trio and the listeners laughing.
Again experiencing the music anew through our friend's experience was special fun as she spoke of the things she enjoyed. The chatter between the musicians, the high standards of performance, the beauty of the compositions and the graciousness of all three of them toward our friend, left us with smiles and the reminder of why we so much look forward to our Sundays at the Paragon.
Great food, Brent and Kate representing a charming restaurant, a warm summery day following a Super Moon, and delightful music from amazingly gifted musicians who are also the nicest of people. A happy convergence on a good day.