Now...before you folks start going off on a tangent let's not get it twisted, ok? There is great music in Pittsburgh. Just not enough of it and the failure by some promoters and other folks to get some of these big tours. It's not just Jazz but across the board. It gives me a migrane trying to figure out folks here, but I do love my home.
There have been some great shows and great concepts this summer. Poggie Bell at Market Square, Dwayne Dolphin's CD release shows at not one but three locations, Thr Tribute To the Turrentine Brothers, Jimmy Ponder at Reservoir of Jazz and some(I said some) of the acts that made up the Pittsburgh Blues Festival, and the amazing Opek at Highland Park.
The closing of the Penn Brewery is a blow of course but we have to regroup and seek other alternatives . I spennt the better part of last week with my good friend Bob Davis of Soul Patrol (www.soul-patrol.com). We covered three shows. The one review you will see, a very disapointing show with Keb Mo and Robert Cray and a funkafied show with Richard Elliot and Rick Braun (Say what? If I'm lyin' , I'm flyin')
Anyhow...we need big show here as well. I would have loved to see the Return To Forever Reunion Tour or the Global Noize show with Jason Miles and Company.
The Thunder Tour featuring Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten and Marcus Miller rolled its way into the Keswick Theater in Philadelphia. It was a homecoming for Stanley as he was in the "City of Brotherly Love", for this appearance. Earlier this summer he was with his band mates from Return To Forever for their reunion tour.
Stanley quipped backstage before the show, "I’m glad I can do this while I'm still young!" Clarke used to worry about being the oldest guy in, but he commented "These guys are good guys, very talented, and I have known them both since they were kids." Clarke also commented that Miller and Wooten are the cream of the crop while taking a break during the performance.
This super lineup of Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten did not occur overnight but was in the making for more than 15 years. What started the wheels turning for the SMV tour was when Stanley received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bass Players Live Conference and Concert in 2006. In an impromptu performance, Miller and Wooten joined Clarke on stage jamming for the 900 people in attendance.
The show opened up with Jasmine Kelly and her group that played to a packed house of 1300. Her set was bright and cheerful and her guitar work is exceptional.
Soon after a short break to change the stage, SMV came to the stage with a thunderous ovation from the crowd of many Soul Patrollers in attendance that are also fans of Clark, Wooten, and Miller. At three artists currently have their solo albums out in addition to the SMV recording.
SMV opened the show with a thundering salvo of bass licks. By the way the ensemble consisted of keyboards, drums and the three bassists. Clarke clearly shows that he was the elder statesman by exhibiting his mastery to his "students" and the crowd. It was time for the funk to hit the fan.
In a comment from an Allentown Soul Patrol member in attendance, "I've been lucky enough to see some of the greats. Stevie Wonder, Prince, Miles Davis, Aretha, Teena Marie, Jill Scott and on and on. But after seeing Stanley Clarke play "Milano" on acoustic bass tonight, I do believe I witnessed pure musical genius. I'm not ashamed to say that brought tears to my eyes. It was such an amazing night of music...real funkin' music! What a soul lift it was to look around at such a diverse audience. especially the young ones...all loving, knowing and supporting real music. Gonna be hard to top this show."
Now only was Clarkes performance outstanding, but Marcus Miller showed his mastery on baritone saxophone as the trio performed his composition "Tutu" that was a bit hit for Miles Davis. Most folks don't realize that Miller plays several instruments.
Victor Wooten did not take a back seat either. He led the group on several excursions’ and traded licks with Clarke and Miller. In tribute to close friend who had just passed, Wooten did a beautiful adaptation of the Gospel tune "Pass Me Not Oh Gentile Savior".
The 2 1/2 hour show included 12 tunes many of which were composed by all three for the SMV release. The show ended like it started, with the crowd on its feet, thunderous, as the group performed Clarke's classic "Lopsy Lu"
Wooten commented on the tour by saying "This is intense, but I'm having fun." All three artists commented on the many old and new fans that have come to the concerts so far this summer.
The group will be winding up the US portion of the tour and heading around the world. For more information about SMV got to: http://www.smvmusic.com/