September marks the first anniversary of the opening of Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base in Reading, Pennsylvania, so Happy Birthday, Jazz Base! Congratulations to Gerald Veasley, the extremely talented bass player who's made Reading his artistic home, John Ernesto, general manager of the Berks Jazz Fest, the Stage Right Production crew and the Sheraton for an exciting and memorable first year!
This first birthday party included another Thursday night of great music with Gerald Veasley and his band members: Will Brock and Pete Kuzma on keyboards, Eric Green on drums, and saxophonist Chris Farr. What made the night even more special was the addition of special guest and long-time friend Chieli Minucci, guitarist and composer extraordinnaire!
In his usual style, Gerald asked the audience to 'Sit back...and relax...'
Each of two sets began with Veasley and the band playing a few favorites, songs like 'Coup de Ville,' 'Do You Remember,' 'Do I Do,' 'Sugartime,' 'Deeper,' and 'Valdez in the Country.' The band was simply awesome.
Once Chieli joined them each set after about four songs, the high that Gerald felt having Chieli on stage with him was totally infectious. With Chieli there, the hallmarks of a Gerald Veasley performance -- the smiles, the becoming totally lost in the moment, and the intricacies of his techniques -- were as excellent as always, and then some! Gerald did a solo that was so out of sight it must be recorded in the heavens somewhere!
Likewise, Chieli's been eager to play with Gerald's band, having done a show with them in Rehoboth Beach last year. He relished having this talented and very tight band with him every step of the way -- he was free to play with the same level of intensity and passion as he does with his own band, to the crowd's delight. Chieli is a real favorite among fans.
Along with Gerald's songs and keyboard player Will Brock's legendary 'Home,' fans were treated to Chieli and/or Special EFX compositions of 'Kickin' It Hard,' 'Cruise Control,' 'Speak to Me,' and Stevie Wonder's 'Cause We've Ended As Lovers.' Duos of Chieli with other band members were magnificent and fun to watch. 'Kickin It Hard' was especially outstanding and turned into quite a jam session.
The combination of Chieli playing Veasley's music and this band playing Chieli and Special EFX music was a sight and sound to behold. Chieli and Gerald definitely brought out the best of the best in each other, and had an enormous amount of fun. After watching each of them during many shows, it's evident that talented musical artists continue to evolve over time and become even better at what they do.
Fortunately for the fans, this exciting night of music lasted even beyond the scheduled ending time! Some fans went home with prizes won during a raffle drawing: concert tickets, Berks Jazz Fest jackets and t-shirts. If you didn't attend, you missed your chance to get a free, one-and-only Jazz Base cup!
Hope to see you at the Jazz Base!
Gerald Veasley, At the Jazz Base
Chieli Minucci, Got It Goin' On
Beverly J. Packard
Jazz Circle Member of the Berks Arts Council
Photo Credits: Michael Packard