Berks Jazz Fest 2009: Pieces Of A Dream / Average White Band

Sunday afternoon we got the double ticket of Pieces Of A Dream and Average White Band as part of Smooth Jazz 92.7FM Listener Appreciation Day, an afternoon of music in front of a sold-out house at the Plaza Reading Hotel Ballroom.

Pieces Of A Dream are veterans of the scene, they started their career with the help of mentor Grover Washington Jr. in the early 80's, and are still on the forefront of today's smooth jazz scene. The band is led by founding members Curtis Harmon on drums and James Lloyd on keyboards, plus members Eddie Baccus on sax, David Dyson on bass and - newest official member - Rohn Lawrence on guitar. They put on an energetic show, featuring material from their new CD, Soul Intent, like "Hindsight"; and, several classics, among them "Fo-Fi-Fo" and and a tribute to Grover Washington Jr., giving Eddie Baccus the opportunity to shine. They were joking around and had a good time, as did the capacity crowd. A Pieces Of A Dream concert is always an enjoyable experience, they deliver a powerful performance full of catchy melodies and superior playing, satisfying your smooth jazz expectations.

Next up were the Average White Band, originally hailing from Scotland with a career that started in the early 70's, yielding many classics. The band is fronted by original members Alan Gorrie on bass, guitar & lead vocals and Onnie McIntyre on guitar & vocals. The rest of the band underwent several changes over the years, the current lineup consists of Fred Vigdor on sax, Rocky Bryant on drums and the outstanding Klyde Jones on keyboards, guitar, bass & vocals. They quickly won over the crowd by starting the show with a short version of "Pick Up The Pieces", before exploring the large catalog of the band. Alan Gorrie really incorporates AWB for me with his voice and trademark bass playing, while the rhythm guitar of Onnie McIntyre anchored things. Freddie V really nails the sax parts down and delivered many great solos, but most notable player was Klyde Jones, who really added another dimension to the proceedings with his soulful singing, mean bass playing (during the parts of the show when Alan Gorrie picked up his guitar) and Benson-like guitar playing. The songs played ranged from "Cloudy" to "TLC", "Person To Person", "I'm The One" and - for the encore - the inevitable "Pick Up The Pieces" that added Eddie Baccus to the horn section, bringing the concert to a great end.