Imagine this... An Olympics Marathon of the blues mixed with straight ahead jazz relays, all seasoned with a dash of ballads, swing, and contemporary compositions from the 60's and 70's and a standard turned into a tantalizing tango.
This was the soulful session that occurred Friday night August 15th, at the Parkway Grill in Pasadena. The packed lounge and bar area was alive with easy conversation, food and drink; I was seated with a friend. As we settled in for an evening of dinner and Friday night relaxation, we anticipated a wondrous musical experience.
Pianist - David Arnay and Bassist - Nedra Wheeler serenaded us with an array of tunes that would take us on an explicitly soulful journey. The combination of the 2 seasoned musicians lured the audience all night. David and Nedra would also inspire a couple of ardent Jazz lovers before the night was done. The result was a trio delight.
The flight included beautiful Blues by Miles Davis, "All Blues" and the Thelonious Monk Jazz tune, "Crepuscule with Nelli", and the Swinging Erskine Hawkins - "Tuxedo Junction". Charlie Parker's "Confirmation" was just that presenting a versatile validation of the duo's creativity.
Nedra showed her vocal chops were as cool and in the pocket as her amazing bass work. It was lyrical, joyous, and filled with a glorious sense of timing.
Let us get the long-stemmed rose between the teeth with David and Nedra's tantalizing tango version of "What is this thing called Love". I would portray it as passion personified.
The team mixed in a bit of the late 1960's groove with "Up, Up, and Away" and "Good Day Sunshine", The 1970's were not left behind as David and Nedra played a tune the band "Chicago" made famous - "25 or 6 To 4", and Stevie Wonder's "Master Blaster" was as soulful and funky as ever.
A "sit-in" with the great artists took place as the night progressed. An ardent Pianist in his own rite - Michael, sat down in front of the Ivory and Black keys and performed a nice version of Duke Ellington's, "Angelica". The audience was receptive, attentive, and rewarded by this as well as by David, who had sported his guitar playing abilities to back up Michael along with Nedra on Bass.
I feel a bit awkward in sharing this, but I cannot resist. David stepped over to my table and asked, "If I brought my axe"? Flute in hand, I came up to the band stand and elatedly stayed with the Blues form by performing a Sonny Rollins tune, "Blues 7" followed by Duke Ellington's, "C-Jam Blues".
As I caressed the keys of my flute, it seemed as though there wasn’t a ceiling on the lounge. Nedra, David and I floated to the heavens in sync with spirit of the moment and music.
David and Nedra's spontaneity, gracefulness, acute union, and affecting approach were communicable and wonderful.
This proved a night bursting with surprise, serenity.