The Jazzcat

Sweet Baby Jai at the LAX Westin Hotel

by on Oct.08, 2004, under News


Additional Photos

Who controls the show? Undoubtedly Sweet Baby Jai! Covering

the gamut from jazz standards and ballads straight to the down and dirty blues,

this wonderfully talented singer will blow you right out of your seat. With

such a powerful voice and polished stage presence, Sweet Baby Jai captivates

and invites her audience to look, listen and have a good ole time. Now, I know

that Patti Labelle carries around Tabasco

sauce in her purse but, how many singers do you know that will reach in a pull

out a wash board and start playing it? She also keeps two spoons that she will

not hesitate to break out for more texture if need be.


Accompanied by the lovely Karen Hammack on piano, Richard

Simon on bass and musician/educator Sherman Ferguson on drums, Sweet Baby Jai

delighted the jazz audience at the LAX Westin last Wednesday night. She is

truly an entertainer and not just another vocalist. She likes to have fun, tell

stories and get her audience involved in the essence of the music. She looks

and sounds good wearing the amber, red and green lights of the stage.



Karen Hammack swings the blues and is constantly playing

lovely and delicious melodies. Always complimenting beautifully and playing

some great solos. Richard Simon is serious about his music. He and his

instrument are one as he provides us with solid rhythms, and a strong

reverberating sound. You can feel him as he plays. Sherman is cool and laid back as he plays his

drum lick with ease. Even a little under the weather, Sherman delivers like UPS, always on time!



Carmen McRae, one of my favorite singers, is an

inspirational diva to Sweet Baby as well. She wrote a tune appropriately called

“Carmen’s Blues” where there was some conversation between her and the bass. As

we all know every jazz singer gets the blues, but somehow, it is always a

remedy to make us feel good!


Well, weather you want “All or Nothing at all”, you get

plenty with Sweet Baby Jai. A wide range of vocals, a tight sound, standards,

originals and an all around fun time. She likes to fit her body right down in

the center of the groove!


On the break we got a chance to experience the USC Art

Blakey Jazz Ensemble. Another group of fine students from USC came down to perform

and this time played many of the fine compositions from the great drum master

Art Blakey. They revisited some of the Classic Blakey tunes and were greeted

with smiles and much applause by the audience.



When Sweet Baby Jai came back to the stage, she did a tune

called “Jazz Is” where she proceeded to rap about her interpretation of what

jazz is to her while each one of her players told their stories through their

instruments. She calls on the student trumpet player to come out and jump in on

a tune. What jazz certainly can be is impromptu! Later on in the set, special

friend TJ Hudson dropped in to add some color on flugelhorn.



From Duke to Miles and back to Sweet Baby Jai, the jazz at

The Westin provides great entertainment, and Sweet Baby Jai kicks it up a few



LeRoy Downs



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