Michael Manson
Live DVD Recording

Mayne Stage, Chicago, IL

Guitarist Jerry Johnson and bassist Michael Manson

Story and Photos by James Walker, Jr., Copyright 2010

It's not often that one has an opportunity to be part of a live DVD musical recording but that was the scenario last week when Chicago smooth jazz bassist Michael Manson gathered a few of his friends at the Mayne Stage in Rogers Park to jam for a few hours while documenting his live performance before a group of fans, friends and out of town guests who were in town for the International Smooth Jazz Awards ceremony.

This event turned out to be not only a recording , but also a high energetic happening that ultimately involved the aroused crowd joining in on a few "funky" numbers at the end that paid homage to a few R&B Funk masters. But, we're getting ahead of ourselves. This performance was not just master bassist Manson at his best, but it also included some of Chicago's most respected contemporary jazz artists. They consisted of keyboardists Tim Gant and Lynard Razor(?), saxophonist Chris Greene, trumpeter Sam Hankins(?), trombonist Steve Berry, bassist Maurice Fitzgerald, drummer Khari Parker, guitarist Jerry Johnson, with vocalists Andrea Love and Joan Collaso.

Because this was a live recording, initially, Manson had to restart a couple of numbers to assure the sound was at optimum level that would maximize the quality being produced by each musician. Once this was resolved, it was nonstop for about two hours.

Chaka Khan's "Everlasting Love" jump started the party with vocalists Love and Collaso being featured and Jerry Johnson putting the wah wah into immediate overdrive. Manson had this crowd energized from the start. Michael then highlighted one of his biggest hits, "Outer Drive." This tune made it to number one an few years ago on smooth jazz stations and he played this one with passion like a man possessed. Micheal's longtime side kick guitarist Jerry Johnson also stood out.

Collaso and Love again were featured on Luther Vandross's "Nothing's Better Than Love." Although they performed admirably in the background all night, this was perhaps their finest moment. Collaso is noted throughout the Chicago area as an exceptional lead vocalist and is just as comfortable singing R&B, jazz, funk or gospel.

A very solemn moment during the performance occurred when Manson shared the backdrop of "Keep Smiling," a number dedicated to his son who passed away in 2001 at the age of 13. It was simply a beautiful ballad with Michael playing from the heart.

Bill Wither's "Lovely Day" featured Tim Gant on the keyboard. In addition, Manson involved the audience in a sing-a-long, as they became the background singers. Fun was surely being had by all now.

As the recording was coming to an end, Manson shared with the crowd a piece of advise given to him by his mentor keyboardist extraordinaire George Duke. Duke told him "never leave a show without some funk". And that's exactly what Manson did. He loaded up a "funk medley" with "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)," "Funky Stuff," "Fire," and "Funky Good Time." By now all are up and many are dancing in their seats. Manson really took Duke's to heart and concluded this two hour extravaganza with a bang.

For additional information about Manson's upcoming CD and DVD, or performance dates refer to his website at www.MichaelManson.com.

Andrea Love and Joan Collaso

Chris Greene

Sam Hankins and Steve Berry

Lynard Razor

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