March 25, 2007

Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Warren Hill & Nick Colionne

Berks07_WarrenHill.jpgSaturday early afternoon people gathered for The Groove Boutique's Rafe Gomez Hosts Warren Hill and Nick Colionne, a double bill of two full length concerts by two very popular artists. The afternoon was hosted by radio DJ Rafe Gomez who played some well selected music before and in between concerts.

Saxophone player Warren Hill had to fight some obstacles to bring his music to us, three of his band members were stuck in LA because their flight was overbooked, so he had to recruit the guitar player from the Sax Pack and the drummer from the Nick Colionne band filling in on short notice to complete his band, which otherwise consisted of Andre Berry on bass (who was touring with Mindi Abair concurrently) and keyboard player Ron Reinhardt. They had to improvise a little but this even added to the fun of the afternoon, Warren Hill was in a relaxed mood and entertained the crowd with witty comments and stories in between songs, yielding some good laughs. He kicked off his show with the Beatles classic "Come Together", then he continued with a great rendition of Grover Washington Jr.'s "Mr. Magic", which he segued into "Winelight", breaking it down nicely giving me goose-bumps! Then he played "Light My Fire" showing tremendous sensibility and a knack for soft and smooth grooves. The crowd just loved it! The whole band did a great job, and Warren Hill had the audience in the palm of his hand. One of the highlights was his version of "Play This Funky Music" having him to walk in the audience and playing his sax standing on chairs amidst the clapping crowd. This was a musically satisfying, very entertaining concert by one of the greatest smooth jazz artists out there.

Berks07_Colionne.jpgThen it was time for the unique Nick Colionne, who was dressed all in white and was ready to give us a good time. Nick knows how to work the crowd, he is a consummate artist, and his witty comments and great rapport with the audience resulted in another very entertaining concert. He played some of his hit songs, among them "High Flyin'" and "Arrival", showing tremendous skills on the guitar, backed by a competent and seriously grooving band. I had forgotten how good this guy actually is and was completely blown away by his flashy runs on the guitar and his Wes-inclined playing, he definitely is up to par with George Benson! Often he broke it down and played it softly and smooth, just to build it up again, he also made more than one strolls into the audience addressing several (mostly female) fans personally. One highlight was his heartfelt rendition of the song "A Rainy Night In Georgia", his low voice gave me a fuzzy feeling and his sensuous playing on the guitar topped it all. Nick Colionne has risen to the absolute top within the smooth jazz genre and I look forward to hear more from this gifted and very likable artist.

Posted by Peter Böhi at March 25, 2007 5:22 PM