Story and Photos by James Walker
Mondays at ETA Theater on 75th and South Chicago Ave. continue to produce an exceptional lineup of Jazz each 2nd Monday of the month. The April edition featured funk/r&b/jazz group SNATCH Inc. This group of "Old School" musicians had ETA rockin' with their infectious sounds, reaching back to the '60s and '70s for music that was made famous by the Motown sound and R&B groups of that historic era.
SNATCH, led by keyboardist and vocalist Tommy Graham, includes Bobby Brown on reed instruments, Carl Lawson on trombone and flute, Wayne Grayson on bass, Levy Wash on guitar and Charles Pricoe on drums. They opened the set with a couple of jazz standards before distinguishing themselves with the title track from their recent CD entitled Snatch on the Beach. Although saxophonist Bobby Brown led this number, this listener couldn't help but to notice the distinct sound coming from the back row, where bassist Wayne Grayson was stroking away on his electric bass. This was just the beginning for Grayson, as he kept the beat in the groove all night long from the background, even though he was never featured during this lively set. Keyboardist Graham effectively used his instrument during this number to produce a nice "vibe-like" sound, reminiscent of funkster Roy Ayers.
For the remainder of the first set, Graham rendered a couple of classic R&B tunes, Tyrone Davis' "Turn Back the Hand of Time" and Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." The crowd loved this segment, and co-host, vocalist Sue Conway, concluded the first set as only the "Maven of the Mic" can, with a stirring rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago." Sue even gave it her best Ella Fitzgerald with some nice scatting. It's always a pleasure to have her compliment these shows with a song or two. Sue's a renowned gospel singer and once toured as a backup singer with Roberta Flack.
The second set began with a dynamic version of Earth Wind and Fire's "That's the Way of the World." This was truly a highlight of the night, with keyboardist Graham at his absolute best on the 88s and vocals. This was followed by a medley of old school jams, including, "You Send Me," "Stay in My Corner," and "You Don't Understand." It was during this number that vocalist Deloris Scott, sitting in the audience, couldn't contain herself and went up to the bandstand to "get a piece of that action." Deloris refused to leave after this number and belted out a classic blues selection, "Sleep With One Eye Open. "One could easily notice this seasoned audience giving this selection its approval with "head nodding" and "foot tapping."
Although this wasn't one of "Music Monday's" typical JAZZ sessions, it certainly met the approval of this audience, as band members led a joyous group of revelers around the theater, as Sue Conway concluded the show with an outstanding rendering of "Teach me Tonight."
For details about future ETA events, refer to their website at www.etacreativearts.org.