You know when people talk about what they'd like to do before they die? Seeing Roy Ayers was one of them. We saw the jazz funk man last Friday during his annual residency at the Jazz Cafe and it was amazing.
It was our first time at The Jazz Cafe. It was slightly disappointing at first as I expected something a little more classy but instead we were greeted by a scruffy venue with a few couches in the corner. Maybe I was expecting something a bit more like Ronnie Scott's. We got there early to have a drink and we sat on the couches by the entrance which are so close together that when it began to fill up, people had to climb over each other to get to the bar/toilet. Forty five minutes before he was due to start we made our way to the front of the stage. As people started to fill the main area, it felt more like a real music venue. Small enough to feel intimate and big enough to create a great atmosphere. There are also two bars in the main area making it easy to nip through the crowds and get a drink.
I first heard Roy Ayer's voice on Masters At Work latin/jazz/salsa project Nuyorican Soul (1997) which includes the song 'Sweet Tears'. He started playing his trademark vibraphone when he was five years old which was given to him by famous vibes player Lionel Hampton. You'd still think he was five the way he plays them now at the age of sixty six!
The gig was fantastic and he performed classics such as "Everybody Love the Sunshine", "We live in Brooklyn" and "Searching". He performed a couple of unknown songs towards the end and the atmosphere seemed to flatten, but nevertheless it was an fantastic experience. As the gig ended and his band members waved CDs around we contemplated waiting for his autograph until a big Italian guy leaped on the stage and grabbed Roy Ayers to have his picture taken. We decided it was time to leave. On the whole it was a great night only spoiled by the fact that on several occasions throughout the gig we had to push our way through the crowd to go to the toilet. That's what you get for drinking beer. Next gig I think I'll stick to the shorts.