The improv of jazz blows me away, especially the type that occurs across a large group of musicians as with Mingus Big Band. Factor in the unique, layered compositions of a Charles Mingus, with his political lyrics of the 50’s and 60’s, and you have a textured mix of jazz structure and improv with the undeniable taste of blues soul.
Great stuff, indeed.
Unfortunately for me, my age precluded me from catching live shows of the legendary jazz musicians and quintets, but thankfully, I’ve been lucky enough to catch a few of the legendary blues acts over the years. So as much as Son Seals and Robert Cray gave amazing performances—each man rocking the stage with a unique six-string sound, pouring their scarred, shaped souls into their sets—I’ve got to tell you, experiencing Buddy Guy live at the Greensboro War Memorial Auditorium last night… well, he took my appreciation of the blues to an entirely new level.
The man is pushing 70, yet he rocked the stage as if he were 30, applying an undeniable pace to his presentation to the audience. Buddy started off with his guitar singing at a murmur, which slowly quieted the warmed up, rambunctious crowd over a a ten minute period. Never changing strategy and displaying the utmost confidence in his approach, once he had the ears and souls of the crowd in tune with him, he moved right into a heavy jam to lift the spirit of the audience beyond where we were to begin the set. The temper of the packed house became something akin to a Sunday sermon when a testify! was shouted out to my left.
The preacher preached on…
The rapport he displayed with his band—jamming back and forth with the back-up guitarist, pianist and saxophonist—brought my appreciation of improv to the forefront of my attention. By the time Buddy and the band hit, I’ve Got Dreams to Remember, from his latest album, I was already kicked back in my seat breathing in the gift of this legend as he crept into my psyche with his janitor’s key in hand, unlocking the guarded door to my soul.
Words can’t do him justice.