On my last day of this fabulous trip, I went to see two of my favorite artists: the queen of soul and jazz flute, Bobbi Humphrey, and the incredibly soulful Portland-based singer, songwriter, and pianist Jarrod Lawson.
Ginny’s Supper Club at the Red Rooster on Lenox Avenue, right off the bubbling 125th Street in Harlem, was already pretty packed when I got in and after I found my perfect spot at the bar, the band was starting its extended version of Marvin Gaye‘s “What’s Going On”, more needed and timely than ever. Goddess of the flute, Bobbi Humphrey, entered the stage with a funky and rousing “Comin’ Home Baby” and followed it up with a smooth and sensitive “Hello”, Lionel Richie’s hit from the 80s.
During a lengthy instrumental part, Bobbi walked through the audience and said hello to everybody, making this more like a family-gathering and a very warm and heartfelt evening, complementing the cozy and dapper atmosphere of the room and the lovely staff. Next up was a sexy version of John Coltrane‘s “Equinox” and one of her signature, post-Blue Note hip songs, “Home Made Jam”, from her 1978 “Freestyle” album. And witnessing her playing her biggest hit, the still resounding “Harlem River Drive”, was worth this trip alone. I wish I could have stayed for the late set to hear more of that enticing flute sounds. The first lady of the flute really seemed to enjoy her crowd and her set. An infectious and exciting set!
I headed midtown after the set and entered the Iridium on 51st Street and Broadway, just in time to see one of the most soulful singers and songwriters around, Jarrod Lawson. I have seen him on numerous occasions, always putting on an incredibly spirited and energetic set, in Paris, Rotterdam, and Berlin. So I was anxious to hear a new song or two since he’s been writing new stuff for his next project, even though I can hardly imagine when he would do that since it seems that he is on tour constantly. But anyway, most of his set comprised songs from his debut album which came out in late 2014. Songs like “He’s There”, where he showcased his enormous gospel-like prowess, or “Walk In The Park”, the astutely intricate song where his two accompanying vocalists, Tahirah Memory and Molly Foote, gelled perfectly and enhanced the whole act.
Both Jarrod and Tahirah excelled again on the beautiful duet “All The Time”, that wonderful love song from Tahirah’s debut album “Pride”. Also included, “Let Me Be Your Piece”, the grooving vibe from the limited edition EP “InterMission”, and one of the (fairly) new songs which he had included in previous shows at well, “Connected”, which really cries out to be recorded. Mentioning the fact that the first album almost didn’t include any love songs, Jarrod gave us this new, yet unreleased piece that really showcased why he ranks among the most consummate artists around: “Love Isn’t Always Enough”, a beautiful ballad with lots of grace and style. Jarrod concluded his set with the funky “Gotta Keep” and a solo performance of “Everything I Need”.