Berks Jazz Fest 2007: Brian Culbertson All-Star Smooth Jazz Cruise Jam II

Berks07_AllStarCruiseJam.jpgAfter the Sax Pack show at 1am the Brian Culbertson All-Star Smooth Jazz Cruise Jam II hosted by Nick Colionne at the Sheraton was due, a promotional event to tease people into joining the All-Star Cruise. All you had to do to get in was to buy a raffle ticket (giving you the chance to win a cabin on that cruise), giving you access to this show, which is always a lot of fun and full of surprises. Host Nick Colionne was dressed in a red suit and hat and ready to lead many artists through a loose jam night. On stage were parts of his band (Dave Hiltebrand on bass, his keyboarad player and drummer), with the additional help of several fellow artists, some of them exclusively appearing at this show. First guest was Alvin Fisher on flute, then on came Jackiem Joyner on sax delivering some great solos, then bass player Gerald Veasley stepped on the stage giving us some serious bass playing. Then sax player Andrew Neu showed up again, helped out by a local guy claiming to be the best mandolin player of Berks County, they played Grover Washington Jr.'s "Winelight" for us with the mandolin player - obviously not exactly playing the style of music he is used to - delivering a totally spaced-out solo on the mandolin, while Andrew Neu turned out to be a true top-shelf player. Then the lovely Althea Rene on flute appeared displaying some serious chops, then bass player Michael Manson stepped on the stage soloing fiercly, then Maysa appeared having come of the Soul Summit show settling into a beautiful version of "Summertime" with lots of scatting and vocal improvisations (having her performance at the Soul Summit pale in comparison), then bass players Gerald Veasley and Scott Ambush (from Spyro Gyra, having sneaked in too) gave us a veritable battle on their basses, before returning the song gently to Maysa to end it. Steve Oliver was there too adding his flashy guitar playing contributing further highlights to this concert. Alan Hewitt played some keyboards and vibes, while another local sax player (who was a little overwhelmed by all the star power around him) got his solo spots too. Nick Colionne directed the proceedings by calling artists to the stage and selecting songs, additionally he played some great guitar solos. The night was concluded with Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" reuniting all artists on stage for the rousing finale. This was the best concert of the festival, not only because of the tremendous star power but most of all because of the truly impromptu setting and the loose way these artists could play and express themselves. At 2am who cares, just let's have some fun!

Here is a short sample of the action on stage: