Story & photos by James Walker, Jr., Copyright 2011
Whenever Maurice "Mobetta" Brown and Corey "CDub" Wilkes get together for a gig, one can expect the unexpected. That's exactly what happened when these two world class trumpeters put together a pre Christmas bash at the Red Kiva on the near West Side with drummer Makaya McCraven, bassist Junius Paul and keyboardist Greg Spero. In the words of the "Godfather of Soul," James Brown, it was a "funky good time."
Without script, rehearsal, or preset song list, these young phenoms rocked the house for nearly three hours to the joy of the near capacity crowd. It's amazing how talented musicians can come together on the spur of the moment, primarily feeding off of one another, improvising and not over stepping boundaries.
Throughout the evening , Maestro Brown orchestrated the production like the pro that he is. His energy level as a performer and leader is simply amazing. He even did a little rapping when not blowing at a high octave.
Although they primarily improvised during the first set, Miles Davis' "In a Silent Way" jump-started the evening and George Clinton's "One Nation Under a Groove" concluded it. What they played between those numbers was entirely spontaneous, creative. and full of energy. Saxophonist Kevin Nabors joined the fray during the Clinton number.
The second set began with Cdub taking the lead and stunning the crowd with his blazing chops as Mobetta directed the action. These two alternated blowing fast, bright trumpet flourishes with a bold attack on each note. During the next segment, Spero demonstrated his talents on the keyboard as Wilkes and Brown engaged in a friendly "call and response" bantering. This segment was really hot!!!!!
Brown did favor the crowd with "Merry Go Round" - a hit from his recent critically acclaimed CD The Cycle Of Love during this set. Spero had a nice extended solo on this selection as Wilkes's soft muted trumpet complemented the action in the background. Spero then led Miles Davis's "So What" that he rearranged with a Radiohead tune into "So What/Everything In Its Right Place." This Latin-tinged number also included a cameo appearance by young saxophonist Irving Pierce and featured bassist Junius Paul.
This fine evening of jazz and funk concluded with Mobetta and Cdub blowing from opposite ends of the room in another outstanding "call and response " segment and in unison. It was an evening of fun that was had by all and the audience responded with a rousing ovation. Let's hope they do this again in the near future.