Robert Irving & friends

Jazz Showcase, Chicago, IL
November 21, 2010

Robert Irving III by James Walker, Jr.
Robert Irving III
Monee Rashard
Monee Rashard

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

John Moultrie recently took his "traveling" Jazz Oasis experience to Chicago's premier Jazz Club, Jazz Showcase featuring none other than Robert "Baabe" Irving and some of his friends. This was his second such event in recent months and if the near capacity crowd at the Showcase is any indication, it appears that he's recapturing his clientele of twenty years ago that often frequented his Jazz Oasis Club on the near north side.

Irving, Miles Davis' former Musical Director, was ably assisted by some of Chicago's finest musicians; bassist Larry Gray, drummer Charles Heath, saxophonist Glen Burris and trumpeter Corey Wilkes. Talented vocalist Julia Huff performed the duties of MC.

Irving opened the first set with "Havilah", a number taken from his New Momentum CD that was originally written for Miles Davis before Miles changed artistic direction to his "electric" mode. Irving, Wilkes, Burris and Gray all flexed their muscles with nice extended solos on this opening number.

On the second number Gray stepped up the pace with his play on the electric bass which is quite different from his usual usage of the double bass. He's quite a master of either instrument. Heath didn't take long before he displayed rapid fire action on the drum kit with Irving quipping "he should be arrested for drum abuse".

Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance" was next on the agenda that Irving described as his effort to "dearrange" Hancock's composition. Wilkes was featured using the fluglehorn. Wilkes also was featured on Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Making Love." When he wasn't using the fluglehorn, he switched to the muted trumpet that produced a very sweet and mellow sound on this ballad. A demonstrative Larry Gray again showcased his many skills on the electric bass.

They closed the set with Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay" with both Wilkes and Burris electrifying the crowd with their extended solos while "Mr. Smooth" Heath's quick hands and instincts revealed a melodic ingenuity on the drum kit.

In addition to Irving's exceptional set, vocalist/keyboardist Dana Lynn opened the evening with a couple of fine selections from from her The Call CD. This "neo soul" musician has a very nice talent should be heard from in the near future. Also, spoken word artist Monee Rashard delivered a few selections from her Flower in the Ghetto CD.

John Moultrie also indicated he will begin sponsoring live jazz at several Starbucks Coffee Shops in Chicago with the Stoney Island Ave. location being the first. Jazzchicago.net will be sure to report on this endeavor in the near future.

Corey Wilkes

Charles Rick Heath

Larry Gray

Glen Barris

Dana Lynn

Julia Huff

John Moultrie

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