Story and Photos by James Walker
This writer never gets to much of Chicago's finest trumpet player - Corey Wilkes. Tonight at Andy's was no exception, even though the Wilkes Quartet had to work extra hard to compete with a loud and festive audience. There were several groups celebrating the holiday season at Andy's this evening, and they obvioulsy weren't there to enjoy and appreciate this fine, young musician and his band. Nevertheless, Wilkes was joined on stage by Charles "Rick" Heath on drums, Robert "Baaba" Irving on piano, and Junius Paul on bass. It doesn't get much better that that. Those are elite sidemen - with Irving and Heath often seen around town fronting their own groups.
This writer particularly appreciates and respects Wilkes' willingness to share the stage with his sidemen. Each member excelled throughout the evening with extended solos. Bassist Paul did not allow the less-than-friendly crowd to deter his perfromance. Paul has been seen on several occasions in recent months, and tonight he was "on top of his game." The ease with which he strokes the bass is a sight to see. He obviously was able to block out the background noise and just play.
The same can be said of Irving and Heath. These professionals demonstrated tonight their ability to play under less-than-ideal conditions, and their true love of the music was evident. Musicians play off of the positive energy generated by the audience, but tonight, despite the lack of such energy, their performance was still very entertaining. During the second set, they were joined onstage by a young vocalist by the name of Jan'ee Kendricks. It's always refreshing to watch young vocalists embracing jazz tunes. Jan'ee has a beautiful sound and has a bright future as a jazz vocalist.
To see Wilkes and Heath under ideal conditions, don't miss the Heath led band on Tuesday, December 19th at Martyr's, 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Rick Heath's leading a group featuring Wilkes on trumpet, Marlene Rosenburg on bass, Miguel DeLaserna on piano, and special guest - young tap dancing phenom Jumaane Taylor. Jumaane has a unique talent not often seen in Chicago. He reminds me of the great tap dancer Savion Glover - he's really that good - and is worth the $15.00 advance admission fee. Marlene Rosenburg is a bassist often seen around town at Chicago's finest jazz venues, including last summer at the Jazz Festibval in Grant Park withWillie Pickens, and she often performs at the Jazz Showcase. Of course Wilkes neeeds no further mention , as his reputation is that of Chicago's finest trumpet player. It will also be a pleasure seeing Heath fronting this fine group of musicians. For advance tickets please contact Heath at 773-981-3135.