The Paragon Room, located in the Claremont Hotel in Oakland/Berkeley, was the setting for an appearance by guitarist Eric Swinderman (photo at left) and his band on a recent Saturday night. The Jazz scene these days is happening in venues where the main attraction is social interaction and this was no exception. Although the room is quite large, the seating is not conducive to listening to music and the serving of food and drinks is a distraction. At first, I was seated so far from the bandstand that it was difficult to hear and the visual sightline left a lot to be desired for a serious music listener. Nonetheless, there was a large contingent of Eric's fans interspersed with other patrons and eventually we worked our way closer to the music.
On this evening, Eric was on acoustic guitar, Marty Williams on electric keyboards, David Daniels on electric bass and Raul Ramierz on drums. They kicked it off with a delicious Brazilian tune and then swung into the Grover Washington tune "Mr. Magic." On the tune "Dindi" (jingee), Eric's vibrant guitar styling exhibited a strong sense of dynamics and Raul Ramierz employed a colorful drum scheme in the mix. The outstanding tune of the evening was a reggae-influenced rendition of "Summertime" which featured Marty Williams on keyboards. Marty Williams did a vocal turn on the funky Les McCann tune "Compared To What" which got some dancers on the floor and added a nice closing touch.
This band was just absolutely outstanding together. Eric Swinderman is a prodigiously talented guitarist who maintains a universal groove whether he plays Jazz, R& B or blues. His style and grace on this evening was all the more meaningful since he was playing for an attention-deficit audience!
by Dorothy L. Hill
Jazz Now Interactive February 2004 Vol 14 No. - Table of Contents
Copyright Jazz Now, February 2005 edition, all rights reserved