Eric Darius

Close Up 2, April 30, 2010
Eric Darius
Eric Darius

Story and Photos by James Walker, Jr.

Blue Note recording artist smooth jazz saxophonist Eric Darius was in town last Friday to help launch the "Smooth Jazz Cruise 2012" "Party at Sea." Micheal Lazaroff, CEO of Jazz Cruises, LLC, chose Close Up 2, Chicago's only smooth jazz club, to announce his 2012 lineup. In doing so, Darius wowed the capacity crowd with an array of high energy numbers that kept all present in a festive mood for his entire 90 minute set. Darius was backed by local musicians Buddy Fambro on guitar, Chuck Webb on electric bass, Ben "Jammin" Johnson on drums and John Erickson on keyboard. Prior to Darius taking the stage, Fambro and his group warmed up the crowd with a nice set that included several selections from Buddy's "Higher Consciousness" CD. Bassist Chuck Webb was in a groove on "Cast Your Fate To The Wind," while Fambro's smooth guitar was quite evident on Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why."

But on this occasion, it was the young Darius that attracted a "standing room only" crowd and were they in for a treat. Eric wasted little time setting the tempo, as he and Fambro engaged in "call and response" on the initial number. Although these guys had never even practiced together, the entire set from the top was seamless. Keyboardist Erickson had his first opportunity to shine with a solid extended solo on "Chillin Out."

"Just For The Moment," recorded with guitarist Norman Brown, afforded Fambro another opportunity exchange note for note with the energetic Darius. When he wasn't bantering with the "house" musicians, he worked the crowded room to perfection, weaving within the limited space without missing a beat. Throughout this segment, the crowd was on their feet cheering him on for more. Eric finally slowed the pace down with Alicia Keys" beautiful ballad "If I Ain't Got You" as he continued to move from one end of the club to the other. The ladies were ecstatic as all gave Eric a standing ovation at the conclusion of this song.

Eric "funked up" the club with a reggae number that was a tribute to his parents who are from Haiti and Jamaica. By now, many were on their feet dancing or in their seats dancing. All were having a ball as Mr. Darius was at his best.

He concluded his set with the title selection from his latest CD, "Going All Out," a number that reached #1 on Billboard.

A great time was had by all as Eric Darius demonstrated why he's considered one of the rising stars of Smooth Jazz. This listener previously witnessed Eric in action on the Smooth Jazz Cruise and he had the ship rockin' like he rocked Close Up 2 on this occasion. This South Loop club continues to showcase the best that Smooth Jazz has to offer and promises to showcase the talents of saxophonist Dave Koz in the near future.

Please Refer to their website at www.closeup2jazz.com for details and future engagements. .

Buddy Fambro
Buddy Fambro

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
John Erickson
John Ericson

Chuck Webb
Chuck Webb

Micheal Lazaroff
Micheal Lazaroff, CEO of Jazz Cruises, LLC

Pat Parker & Eric
Eric & Michael Lazaroff

Ray & Lisa McDonald

Eric & Norma Intemann

James Walker & Eric

Check out other recent concerts reviews and photos

Contact James Walker and JazzChicago.net at jwjazz@att.net

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