|February 2001||Worldwide network of jazz enthusiasts to ultimately develop into a Jazz Nation - under the guiding light of Albert Khalis Pride|
|Street Scene.. .Alabama A&M University -"The Quad"... Homecoming Festival 2000... Hot contemporary on a cold night in Huntsville...Thursday, September 28, 2000...|
The only institution of higher learning in this region that I'm aware of that features a contemporary jazz festival as part of homecoming is Alabama A&M University, in the spacious & vast Tennessee valley area. Many of you who follow Jazz Exodus are aware of the great jazz stories I've shared about the "vibe" in Huntsville being so much different from anywhere else in the state, and once again, courtesy of campus station WJAB-FM 90.9, the grooves are unleashed, & believe me, with the sudden cold snap that gripped the area at sundown, great music was a much needed pleasant distraction.
Man, was it ever cold out there! I never bothered to find out for sure, but, if I had to guess, I'd say it was in the mid to low 40's by show time, and may have dipped a bit lower as time went on, but, the majority of the large crowd braved the elements (Hey, it was a free concert) & occasional technical difficulties that came up before the show started, they hung in there like real jazz troopers, & we were very fortunate that on this night there were almost no strong winds, because the stage was in the middle of this huge, open stretch of land on campus known as "The Quad", otherwise, this would have been a real arctic adventure. With the exception of Huntsville blues sensation Microwave Dave & The Nukes, and of course, Eric Essix, I was unfamiliar with the other performers on hand.
That would change in a heartbeat once violinist Noel Webb took the stage, and proceeded to amaze with silky numbers from his Satin Sheets CD, which I bought prior to the end of his first song. His show was a real crowd pleaser, as people were screaming and dancing to his music, it was a real big thrill for me, too, because this was only my 2nd live jazz violin experience in over 20 years (John Blake was the first), my lower jaw nearly dropped to the floor with astonishment, esp. during the finishing track, a tune made famous by Paul McCartney, "Anticipation"...
Keyboard sensation Bob Baldwin soon followed, and continued to raise the lifeforce just as Noel had done, mostly with selections from his killer CD, Bob Baldwin.com, the standouts clearly were "Never Can Say Goodbye", "People Make The World Go Round", & the one that sent us all home dancing, "Funkin' For Jamaica". And there you have it, an outdoor odyssey that lasted over 6 1/2 hours, and went well into the next morning. Made for a very triumphant homecoming of my own, this being my 4th jazz road trip to the area this year.
Whoever wrote the lyrics to the classic "Stars Fell on Alabama" had to be inspired in some way by something they experienced in Huntsville.. .When it comes to great jazz shows, this city shines like a diamond in the sky...
*Dedicated to Ms. Ellen Washington & that wonderful group of diehard fans I encountered there on this night that stayed until the very last note was played.