Roy Ayers

Roy AyersWhen it comes to good funky jazz and soul, one of the artists that always comes to mind is Roy Ayers. His music expresses many of our care-free summer feelings in just a few words “Everybody loves the sunshine”, and the musical skill of both himself and his band (Ubiquity) is practically unrivaled. It was therefore to my utter delight when I realised that he would be playing here in Leeds on March 17th at my favorite jazz club, The Wardrobe.

Never have a I seen the venue as packed. I had a ticket in advance, but of those who bought on the door many were disappointed, and the gig was sold out and the club rammed within a mere half hour or so. By the time Roy came on stage the atmosphere was electric and the dance floor in front of the stage was rammed 10-15 rows of people deep, all eager to be as close as possible to the first blast of sound.

I’ve only ever heard Roy’s music on CD or internet radio broadcast, and all I can say is that neither medium does him and Ubiquity any justice what-so-ever. As soon as the first riff rolled out across the club, I knew I was in the right place.

Roy started easy on the vocals with occasional vibes, but it warmed the audiance up nicely, for what was soon to come – a 15 minute long jamming session for the band, in which each member displayed outstanding skill. Matt (a friend who came along with me) and myself were just jiving to the amazing work of the guitarist and saxophonist, who also turned out to be quite the “Bob Marley” on the vocals when it came to it.

Roy has certainly got a solid band, with each solo as good as the last, with no clear winner in an all too often biased competition with most groups. The combination of Roy’s presence and skill on the vibes, combined with the awesome sound of his badn created one of the most atmospheric and electric events I have gone to to date.

Everybody Loves the Sunshine was the highlight of the whole evening as I always knew it would be, but not half like I had expected. Cool as ever Roy thanked everyone for coming down, and then with a glint in his eye said “And who loves the sunshine down here tonight?”. We all went crazy. After what we’d just heard from the group, we knew this song was going to be the highlight. Roy got us all joining in with the words, and we were treated to what can only be described as a funk marathon as the band jammed their way through Roy’s most famous number.

Traditional jazz fans were also rewarded when Roy and Ubiquity covered some superb Dizzy Gillespie tracks, which really put the icing on the cake, and was a throughly enjoyable chilled out few minutes in what was otherwise a gig of excitement and constant frenzy.
An hour and a half exposed to this kind of quality jazz funk and soul gives you what can only be described as a super “high” or “trip”, really quite something, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go again. Really inspiring and refreshing stuff.

Luckily for those of us who struggled to come down off such a trip with a bump at midnight, they played some great hard bop, jazz and house over the speakers until 2am for us all to continue dancing and jiving too, and it made the whole evening that little bit more polished and complete.

If you haven’t seen Roy Ayers and Ubiquity live yet, you haven’t lived. Thats all I can say on the matter 🙂

 

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3 Comments

  1. James Goodhead Said,

    March 20, 2006 @ 7:16 pm

    What a terrific artist Roy Ayers truly is. I was deeply upset that I missed the concert as it sounds absolutely tremendous! For people who want to listen to a tune titled ‘everybody loves the sunshine’, try listening to the end of my last show on URY..

  2. James Said,

    March 22, 2006 @ 12:30 pm

    I cannot believe the soul legend Marlena Shaw will be playing at The Wadrobe. The Wardrobe is an unparalleled haven of legendary artists followed by even more legendary artists. I believe I will be attending the concert in late April!

  3. Kieran Said,

    March 22, 2006 @ 1:30 pm

    Yes, it is true; Marlena Shaw is indeed performing at The Wardrobe on 22nd April. I will be there and will of course review it afterwards. Tickets are £14. I recommend anyone in the area who likes good soul to come along, it will be a great night and you’ll be within a few metres of the legend who made “Califronia Soul” and “Woman of the Ghetto” the superb soulful infusion that they are!

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