Story and Photos by James Walker, Jr.
Close Up 2 (CU2), Chicago's only contemporary jazz club was packed to capacity
on the Valentine's Day eve as saxophonist/vocalist Marqueal Jordan and his band
thoroughly entertained the crowd of revelers with an array of smooth jazz and
contemporary jazz standards.Marquel was accompanied by long time partner
guitarist Scott Leff, keyboardist Greg Spero, bassist Maurice Fitzgerald,
and drummer Khari Parker. This was a very special evening for many couples
celebrating Valentine's Day and they were really in for a special treat.
Those in attendance included Micheal Lazaroff, Executive Director of Jazz
Cruises, LLC, and International Smooth Jazz guitarist Nick Colionne. Nick
performed earlier at DuSable Museum with saxophonist Gerald Albright. Of
course Chicagoan Colionne couldn't resist sitting in with the fellows toward the
end of the evening with a "rockin" version of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going
On". They were also joined on this number by saxophonist Kevin Nabors. What a
jam. The friendly bantering between Marqueal and Nick had the crowd in a frenzy.
This was worth the price of admission.
Back to the beginning of the evening. The first set consisted of a variety of
numbers including David Sanborn's "Snakes", Gershwin's "Summertime", "Riding
High", and a Sly Stone number. Not only did Marquel display his skill as a
saxophonist, but also wowed the audience with his vocals on "Riding High" and
"Summertime". Throughout this set, drummer Khari Parker's quick hands and
instincts reacted in the moment as he built slow solos to exhilarating burns.
Keyboardist Spero also distinguished himself with several "killer" solos on this
Marqueal unleashed his beautiful vocal instrument during the second set on
"Grown and Sexy" and Maxwell's "Bad Habits." Ladies in the
audience were going wild as guitarist Leff kicked in a solid solo on Maxwell's
Versatile Jordan opened the final set with Freddie Hubbard's classic "Red Clay".
Spero and Leff, playing with a valiant spirit whipped up an interactive
whirlwind during this tune. After jamming with Colionne, they concluded the set
with Miles Davis Classic "So What". Nabors solo here is stunning. Demonstrating
why he's considered one of Chicago's finest young musicians. But it was the drum
machine of Khari Parker that literally concluded the evening with a commanding solo
that brought many to their feet.
What a pleasure to have Marqueal back in Chicago full time after spending most of
last year on tour with smooth jazz funkateer Brian Culbertson.
Frank Goss of CU2 announced the future appearance of Smooth Jazz Icon Dave Koz
at CU2. Refer to their website at www.closeup2jazz.com for details and future