When it comes to jazz, funk, soul, and r&b there is obviously a clear lineage. But unlike human evolution, the missing link was discovered some time ago and his name is Roy Ayers. Few have spanned as many genres and decades, with such style and character as the US vibes man. Having released over 90 albums encompassing everything from medium swing classics to rip roaring funk monsters, whilst composing some of times greatest underground hits including; "Everybody Loves the Sunshine", "Running Away" and "Searching", it's fair to say Roy Ayers has already long left his mark on modern music. For some it may come as a surprise that he still tours so heavily, but now well into his 70s you can find him on the road most of the year.
As expected, and hoped, this was a busy gig with a mixed crowd of old jazz funk heads and a healthy selection of younger faces that got the perfect warm up from local Leeds jazz scene legend DJ Lubi, and by the time the crowd caught a glimpse of Roy Ayers between the curtains to back stage the venue was primed.
Opening up with "Red Black and Green", the band hit full flight instantly with blistering solos from the man himself alongside his counterpart on keys. Donned in his usual head gear and a striking flower jacket, Roy and the band continued in similar vein with energetic and very much extended renditions of some of his most loved back catalogue.
Special mentions go out to the "Everybody Loves The Sunshine" call and response with the crowd and a killer half time drum solo amidst the groove of "Running Away".
The only possibly sour note, came in the form of consistent issues with the sound from the electronic vibes, but the crowd and band took it in their stride and some of the biggest responses of the night were saved for the moments a sound guy hastily ran on stage to make the necessary adjustments before Roy sprung into an anticipated solo.
It goes without saying that at the age of 76 Roy Ayers is no spring chicken, and as one woman was telling me at the bar, he may not be the same Roy Ayers that made her weak at the knees in Ronnie Scott's way back when, but he's still the man.
Photos courtesy of Abs Samad (lonelens.com / facebook.com/lonelens)
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