Remembering Clifford Jordan
Sunday, February 22nd, 2009
Once again The BassLine Cafe was the place to be on February 22nd when Very Truly Yours Consultants Inc. had another one of those "Sunday Serenades"; this time dedicated to the memory of Chicago tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan. The unique thing about these concerts is that Nat and Arnie don't hire bands, they hire musicians they feel will complement one another on the band stand. All the musicians that are picked for these "Sunday Serenades" usually get together about an hour and half before the concert starts to go over the material that will be played, and the results are amazing if not unbelievable. As most of the people who are in the know and who have experienced a "Sunday Serenade" will tell you, what happens is something they haven't experienced since the days of Slugs in the Village, and that dates back to thirty to thirty-five years ago. Musicians having a great time before an appreciative hard core Jazz audience that is constantly cheering them on.

The members of this band included, Carlton Holmes on piano, Dion Parson on drums, and rounding out the rhythm section was former band mate of Clifford Jordan bassist Kenny Davis. The front line included tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart and another former band mate of Clifford's and "Sunday Serenade" regular Patience Higgins. From the opening number (Status Quo) you could feel that this was going to be one special afternoon. You could also feel that Clifford must have been somewhere in the room because the energy and passion that was on that bandstand (and in the audience) was what Clifford Jordan was all about. Grant and Patience were the perfect combination to have on the front line and the rhythm section provided a rock solid foundation for Patience and Grant to take it anywhere they wanted to go; but for the most part they took it where Clifford would have liked, straight down the middle. One of the highlights of an afternoon filled with them was Patience, Carlton, Kenny and Dion performing Clifford's composition "Prayer to the People". It was so magnificent that they came back in the second set and did it once again to the audiences' delight. I've got to tell you while having my eyes closed listening to this beautiful composition I thought Clifford came out of hiding and got on the band stand. Dion's tasteful drum work was so beautiful that Patience, Kenny and Carlton had smiles that said it all. Other highlights included Grant's powerful solo of the Cedar Walton Composition "Firm Roots". You could really hear a lot of Sonny Rollins' influence come out during that solo. Carlton's solo on the same tune was nothing short of amazing -- during the solo he left a packed house yelling and screaming when he unexpectedly stopped while having the crowd waiting with baited breath for his next note. He looked up from the key board looking at Kenny and Dion as if to say, I got them . Other Clifford Jordan compositions preformed were "Bearcat", and the beautiful "Down Through the Years" and "Laconia" which by the way is Clifford's middle name.

I still find it hard to believe that this band got together forty-five minutes before the concert and created what they did on the band stand. It only shows me that if you get the right personalities and put them in the right environment that is a recipe for some great music. There was a standing room only crowd that included Clifford's widow Sandy Jordan, Gloria Ware (Wilbur Wares widow) along with pianists Onaje Allan Gumbs and Donald Smith. It was a very special afternoon dedicated to a marvelous musician and close friend Clifford Laconia Jordan. I have a strong feeling that Clifford enjoyed seeing all his friends and gave a thumbs up to all the Cat's on the band stand.
- Arnie Perez
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