From: MGA Update (stevencatanzaro_at_sprintmail.com)
Date: 2003-03-31 16:36:39
This was my first time inside the concert / recital hall at the Musician's
Institute (MI), a music school in Hollywood, CA. It is a real nice spot with
good acoustics, comfortable seating, and video screens catching all the
The concert celebrated guitarist Phil Upchurch's 45th year as a professional
musician, and his upcoming tribute of Curtis Mayfield tunes.
Phil's credits are amazing. A longtime association with George Benson is
only one of the highlights; he has also worked with Terry Callier, Aretha
Franklin, Donny Hathaway, The Crusaders, Bobby Blue Bland, Shirley Horne,
Michael Jackson (Off The Wall), Quincy Jones, Rotary Connection, Stanley
Turrentine, Muddy Waters, and so many more of my favorite albums that it's
SICK and FRIGHTENING!
MGA wind player Louis Taylor was on this date, so I had the hookup, which
always seems to make the music sound better! Also in the band was amazing
bassist Ernest Tibbs, (who narrowly avoided playing with the MGA a time or
2), Will Kennedy (of Yellowjackets fame) on drums, Mark Ledford on trumpet
(Pat Metheney, Hugh Masekela, M-Base, and many more). Also in the house was
Vince Wilburn Jr., who as you probably know is Miles' Davis nephew and
played in Miles' band for a long time. Wah Wah Watson was also milling
Suffice it to say the band was smokin hot!
Phil is a deeply spiritual cat, and that became evident right from the
beginning. Rev. Murray of the First African Episcopal Church, and two other
ministers, started the concert with prayers for peace and a speedy end to
The concert was unhurried and informal. Phil said 'Rehearsing is a sign of
insecurity" and "Things don't go the way they're planned, they just go the
way they're supposed to."
The first tune was an Upchurch original, "Jesus" and all stops were pulled
out, with the Brookinaires Gospel Choir supporting the unbelievable Tata
Vega on vocals. Next, they went into some incredible bebop numbers, and Will
Kennedy shined on the drums!
Next came the Curtis Mayfield tribute, "Beautiful Brother of Mine" "Check
Out Your Mind" "It's Alright" and "Superfly..." Louis T's burning soprano
solo brought the house down! (Word is, the band for Phil's Mayfield tribute
album includes Wallace Roney, Ernie Watts, Robert Hurst, Russ Ferrante, and
more! Should be SMOKIN'!)
Next was an amazing vocal group called Betty And The Homewreckers
(B.A.T.H.), fronted by Carol Rogers... They did some FUNKY New Orleans jams,
including "I Put A Spell On You."
Next came Ray Parker Jr., who gave Phil props and did a solo guitar version
of the Beatles' "Michelle."
Then came the Hathaway sisters, Lalah and Kenya, who honored their father
with an incredible number (I should also point out that their was a lot of
soul memorabilia in glass cases, such as Donnie Hathaway's hat from his live
album, Master Henry Gibson's bongos, and a pair of Curtis Mayfield's
What was so great about it is that Phil would just invite people up from the
audience, they'd take a few minutes to decide what song they would do, and
they would launch into it! Incredible!!!
For the last number, he brought up the unbelievable Chaka Khan, who ripped a
totally impromptu version of "The Melody Still Lingers On." Man! Her mouth
was sometimes maybe 18 inches from the mic, and yet her power was such that
she STILL blew away the band, which had now grown to about 18 members!!!
Then, when she got done with some incredible scatting, she kicked Will
Kennedy off the drumkit and took the band home on the drums!!! Amazing!!!!
The final number was, of course, "Amen" and by that time, the whole crowd
was going nuts!!! What a show!!!
OK, after that, I realized that at the last MGA gig at the Temple Bar, I
forgot a bunch of my gear. (I am pretty old, ya know...) When I got down
there, who was soundchecking for that night's show but N'Dea Davenport of
Brand New Heavies fame! Now, I know a lot of people around the world reading
this are going to think I'm a chump, (which is true) but I was SO tired by
this time that I couldn't stay for the show.
In my (weak) defense, if you know the Temple Bar, you know it can get REALLY
crowded and cramped when a hot act like N'Dea performs. But, I can report
that her band was HOT, she sounded GREAT, and was a very cool person /
artist, although I was too scared and awed to say anything too her.
I got to hear them do alot of new numbers and some old Brand New Heavies
tunes, including Stand Up and more. The bar staff and the soundman were
going nuts with anticipation, as were the members of the audience lined up
outside!!!The band was 4 pieces and was very, very tight!
I don't know if this is part of a tour or not, but, if it is, and it comes
near you, go check it out, as the sound is on point!
I guess the lesson is great music never grows old, even if fans like me
Peaceout from LA!