“If you’re ever in the DC/MD/VA metro area (affectionately known as the DMV) around the time this band is scheduled to appear, you do not want to miss it. Local talent bringing originality, showmanship, and clear musicianship. In a class all its own.”
Big NY & The Smooth Jazz Allstarz
The Carlyle Club
Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, 7:30 pm
The classy Carlyle Club in Alexandria, VA was the proud host of one of the best shows I’ve seen all year as Christian “Big NY” De Mesones and his Smooth Jazz Allstarz band presented a high-caliber, well-produced, and most entertaining concert that left a packed audience beaming and in good spirits (and, in such a time of concern, stress, and preoccupation with the nation’s political state of affairs, such a pleasant distraction was a huge plus).
The well-oiled band of most competent musicians included longtime De Mesones comrade guitarist Mike Gamble, saxman Rob Maletick, guest trumpeter and Grammy nominee Rob Zinn (who has a wonderful new release on the national scene – reviewed on this site –), vocalist Nia Simmons, the always exciting keyboardist extraordinaire Elliot Levine (who always seems to be having his own private party as he lays out his electrifying riffs), fired up drummer Chris “Biscuit” Bynum, flashy percussionist Curtis McCain, and the colorful timbales of Sergio Rosales. A grade A lineup to be sure.
Along with super guitar, bass, and keys chops, the horn arrangements were of top-tier excellence and brilliance, adding so much color to the set.
Among the most moving, shaking, and electric tunes were the red-hot opening tune “Cinco Cinco Seis,” “Parkside Shuffle,” “The Bullfighter,” a new Latin-tinged track called “Hispanica,” De Mesones’ signature “Latin Jive Redux,” and what turned out to be my favorites of the evening, another new track called “Gone Under” and his R&B/bluesy Sly Stone-like “Good Ol’ Days.” The band finished off the night with De Mesones’ former Groove Skool Band classic “Dekalb & Flatbush.” An apropos way to wrap it all up.
I know Big NY and have experienced his sets on numerous occasions. While he has always been a perfectionist and probably his own worst critic, this concert (as I told him) was most likely his band’s best performance to date, outpacing some really solid past performances. I found the sound system to be better balanced, the set list well-chosen (this one was full of new originals yet to be released).
As an entertainer, the larger-than-life bassist is quite personable and engaging during his live performances (this time, even more than usual, it seemed).
Each individual member of this band also had a moment to put on a muscular display of skill, and not one disappointed. In a word, class.
If you’re ever in the DC/MD/VA metro area (affectionately known as the DMV) around the time this band is scheduled to appear, you do not want to miss it. Local talent bringing originality, showmanship, and clear musicianship. In a class all its own. – Ronald Jackson