This is an annual back yard party hosted by Dr. Tomas Eusterbrock at his house in Berkeley, California. In my haste to get to the party, I went off leaving at home my super-duper professional digital camera, the Sony CD Mavica camera and therefore had to take the pictures with my cell phone.
When I arrived there was a quintet from Berkeley High School performing. All of the players looked to be under the age of 14. The players were Sam, vibes; Galen, trumpet; Kaz, alto sax; Billy Buss, drums. I did not get the bass guitar player's name.
Berkeley High has always been noted for their professional approach to Jazz and this group was not an exception, they performed at a level one would not associate with a group of teenagers.
Walter Savage was the music coordinator of the party and, as he usually does, he kept things moving along smoothly.
The next group to perform consisted of Glen Pearson, piano; Walter Savage, bass; Achatan, drums; Yehudit, violin; Mark Chung, violin (photoed above). Their rendition of "Lullaby of Birdland was at an up tempo pace and allowed each musician to solo at will, it was smoking!
There is something special about backyard Jazz parties where the same intensity is never duplicated on stage in the Jazz venues. Nina Hodgson said, "It is the freedom from monetary restraints." What ever it is, it sure does fire up the musicians.
The Savage group performed : "The Little Clown," Walter's piece from his new CD Autumn's Witch. It was interesting to hear the tune performed with different players than those on the CD, Glenn Pearson piano solo was exceptionally good. They performed another piece "Self Help" from the same CD.
I was very happy to see George Hubbard present. He has not been well, but seemed fine. However he did not perform. He is a singer with the Big Belly Blues Band. Rochelle Metcalfe, the reporter with a San Francisco newspaper was also present.
The atmosphere was kind of 1960s, kids were throwing flowers on everyone in the audience, after all, the party was in the Republic of Berkeley.
photos and article by Haybert K. Houston
Joyce Randolph, vocalist, educator, selected to have her CD release party at the Hyatt St. Clair Hotel in down town San Jose, on October 17, 2004.
The Hyatt St. Clair Hotel is a stately hotel. The architecture is comparatively old with wood panels, carved pillars and marble tile. They used the Grand Ball Room for the party, They rigged it up so there was a stage and sound equipment. The minor flaw was the lighting, which didn't give sufficient light to the performers. As one can see from our photos, they didn't do too well without a flash, because we don't like to disturb the performers. It was a listening event. No table was set up for drinks, even though they could be purchased from the bar across the hall, and so there were no buzzing wait persons to disturb the listeners or performers.
Doug Edward was the producer of the CD and the MC for the party. Bill Bell on piano, Jeff Chambers on bass and Omar Clay on drums formed the rhythm section. Former student of Randolph, now professional photographer, Oscar Williams joined in with fluegelhorn. The group performed an instrumental piece before the "star," Joyce Randolph, was escorted into the room by Afrikahn Dayvs, who wrote the liner notes for the CD.
Warm and full volume, her voice filled the sold-out room. She has a friendly and intimate presence with the audience addressing them like old friends. "Autumn Leaves" were interpreted harmoniously, supported by Jeff Chambers' melodious bass line which seems to have a life of its own. Joyce's tones were accurate; falsetto was used easily. Piano was light and gentle, and the drums were sensitive and unobstructive.
Joyce wrote "Just a Little Blue" which she performed next. She articulated well, with vowels clearly projected. The piece was accompanied by Bill Bell's intricate piano only. It was bluesy and sad.
"Time After Time" and "In My Solitude" were duets with the bass. These tested her skill in maintaining accurate tones in her head, because there was no accompanying chords to help, unlike singing with the piano. Jeff could be playing anything in his own bass line. This was a different approach to the songs, however, it felt a bit empty and hollow because there is nothing to fill up the space between the top and bottom lines and there are a couple octaves in between. It sure was challenging.
"I Sent Him Roses" from Joyce's first CD, was a tune written by Ms. Randolph but arranged by Bill Bell with a catchy, Latin rhythm. "Fever" touched the heart and the story of "Old Folk" was wonderfully told. Oscar Williams offered a fluegelhorn interlude for "Stormy Monday" and " My Funny Valentine."
The performance was well received by the audience, who gave a standing ovation. Joyce returned to sing the Gospel tune, "Precious Lord," which brought us back to Joyce's route of the church and received further approval from the audience.
photos and article by Stella Cheung Houston
Ms. Randolph's CDs can be purchased from Jazz Now Direct. Click Here
Jazz Now Interactive November 2004 Vol 14 No. 7 - Table of Contents
Copyright Jazz Now, November2004 issue, all rights reserved.