February 27, 2009

"An Evening with Alphonse Mouzon" A Review by Celestial Dancer

It’s doubtful that any true jazz fan would be surprised by a show featuring the combined performances of established icons Alphonse Mouzon and Larry Coryell. These two master musicians have not only given the jazz world unparalleled drum and guitar concerts and compositions, but they have collaborated many times both on stage, on separate occasions having shared one with Miles Davis, and over the past thirty-five years both on stage and in the studio on historic projects such as Coryell’s Eleventh House fusion band. Individually, these two masters of crafted sound have forged singular paths of stardom that long ago launched them into the ranks of jazz pioneers. Alphonse Mouzon, a past featured guest on SOJP Radio, adds to his musical repertoire a notable history as a member of Weather Report, along with Joe Zaiwinul and Wayne Shorter, and as founder of Tenacious Records. Larry Coryell is a world renowned guitarist who has mixed strings with the likes of Jimmy Hendrix, Charles Mingus, and Billy Cobham, just to name a few.

So what was the unexpected factor that provided such delight at their recent Saturday evening performance at Yoshi’s San Francisco? Try the old school genius of jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco. A Philadelphia native, DeFrancesco brings the degree of phenomenosity that long ago earned him a place in similar ranks with Mouzon and Coryell. And, as an industry earmark, DeFrancesco also adds the experience of having shared a stage at the amazing age of seventeen with the incomparable Miles Davis. While playing, the organ keys became his extended fingers and we watched in awe as his passion for the instrument compelled the organ to literally ‘sing”.

Although dubbed as an eleventh hour replacement for Jimmy Scott, who was unable to perform due to illness, the energy, zeal and passion of these three musicians blended seamlessly, while emphasizing and elevating the consummate mastery of each to electrify the audience to full attentive bliss. Alphonse Mouzon not only provided the rhythmic adhesive that captured and maintained the splendid integration of this extraordinary trio, but his intoxicating and hypnotic beats were extraordinary as part of the ensemble and throughout each of his solo highlights.

I had the pleasure of enjoying both the early and late shows and found that a group performance that I initially believed could not be surpassed, was phenomenally taken to another level that will remain eternally etched in mine, and I’m sure many of the other audience members’ memory. Notable highlights of this fabulous show include a stunning “Bolero” by Larry Coryell, the trio's collaborative magic on Alphonse Mouzon’s “Funky Waltz”, and a closing performance gem of Mouzon’s “The Cover Girl” that spawned a late show encore. Overall, this was a quintessentially blended euphoric jazz treat for the ears and soul.

No comments: