The Ford Amphitheater is a wonderful place to see, listen
and experience live art. It is intimate and its finite space provides a feeling
of welcoming to patrons who feel that their invitation to the party is a
special one. On any given summer night the warm breezes blow coating the
audience with warmth, wisps of Jasmine and a galaxy of stars shining brightly
under a periwinkle sky.
Ladies and jazz. All you have to do is merely mention the
two words together in a sentence and all kinds of thoughts may enter your head.
“Oh, you must be speaking of singers”. Yes, singers too but, don’t for one
minute think that women and not a major part of this thing we call jazz. In
fact, for several years these women and more have gotten together to celebrate
their existence in the mostly male world of jazz music.
“Oh, they must play like women”. What on earth is that? If
you call rockin’ the house with the sound of every instrument getting down on
some jazz and blues playing like women, then you are right. These girls take no
prisoners as they sweetly and elegantly “Rock the Crowd” with the hits of today
La Quetta Shamblee is the executive producer for the night’s
events and she has brought together an array of talented women who have and
continue to make their mark in the world of music. Dr. Cheryl Keys is the
musical director and tonight she has with her Ms. Vi Red on alto saxophone,
Nedra Wheler on bass, Anne King on trumpet, Maria Martinez on drums, Keisha
Potter on alto and tenor, Jennifer Hall on baritone sax, Robyn Javier on
trombone, Makeda Kumasi doing spoken word, “Lady Mac” Lois McMorris on guitar
and the queen diva herself Ms. Barbara Morrison out front on vocals.
The hosts for the evening were none other than Mr. Los
Angeles himself James Janisse the face and the voice of jazz in LA (You can
take the man away from jazz, but you can’t take the jazz away from the man!)
and from Channel 7 news, Ms Jane Monreal. The night was not just about
celebration but, education as well. Each host would give some history of the
songs and their evolution before and between each number. The band would then
proceed to burn through their arrangement of the pieces delighting the full
house at the Ford.
Barbara Morrison looks good and she will have you laughing
and crying with the “Basin Street Blues” and you will end up wanting to meet
her in her dressing room after the gig for dessert! That woman knows how to
sing the trials and triumphs of a woman and have the men eating out of the palm
of her hand. And you thought Janet Jackson had control!
Go Ahead Girl!
Talk about some kick ass guitar, Lois “Lady Mac” McMorris
was slinging , slammin’ and gyratin’ that axe so hard she could take out a
forest with one swing of the hips and a stroke on the strings. Obviously she
had a thing for Jimi and perfected it extremely well. Vi Red has known for a
long time how to make it storm on Monday and Dr. Cheryl Keys can cook up some
funky “Green Onions” seasoned with all the soul of the day.
These women have collaborated their musical talents not only
to celebrate themselves, but also the women who have marched before them. “I’m
a Woman” reflects the strength, power, determination and unity of the musical
spirit that these talented women possess.
The audience screams with elation as the “Down Home Blues”
is drenched in the reality of life’s drama. Here is an interesting phenomenon;
why does one person’s blues make everyone else feel so good? Maybe it’s because
the people hear it, understand it, and have experienced that person’s pain
before. But with the Blues, no matter how low you go, in the end you always
seem make it up with some good hot LOVIN’!
“RESPECT”, the anthem for women everywhere is sang and
spelled out by the queen diva Barbara Morrison. There could be nothing but
respect for the multitude of talented women that have rocked the stage tonight.
The only emotions that emanate from this stage are those of power. The only
tears around here are ones of joy. And they all left singing, “Hey, Hey, The
Blues is alright!”