Crooner Bobby Caldwell comes to the Monterey Bay on Sunday.
Thursday, January 15, 1998
Bobby Caldwell, blue-eyed soul singer who crooned "What You Won''t Do For Love" to the satisfaction of millions in 1979, is bringing an 18-piece big band to Monterey as part of his Blue Condition tour.
At 46, he is an international star due to his debut success and a string of hits that followed in addition to a second career as a songwriter for other performers. In particular, the Japanese audience has embraced him, honoring the personable father of 5-year-old twin daughters with a Japanese Grammy for Best International Artist in 1992.
His ninth album, Blue Condition, filled with music stylings from the ''40s, is "a radical departure for me, but something I''ve wanted to do forever," he explains from his home in Encinitas, Calif. "Fans expressed that this is a style for me to do."
Interspersed among such classics as Cole Porter''s "I Get A Kick Out of You" and Sammy Cahn''s "All The Way" are tunes written by Caldwell and personal manager/ close friend Henry Marx that recall the sound of Frank Sinatra.
"I really didn''t have too high of hopes for this album," he says. "But it''s kind of turned around and bit me from behind. Now we''ve found ourselves touring with a classic big band which includes players who have been part of both Sinatra and Tony Bennett''s bands. What separates this big band from any I''ve heard are the arrangements and the quality of the musicians."
He cites the Nelson Riddle arrangements for their imagery, the certain movements of strings and the horns which evoke the lonely man at the bar, a dim street lamp along a darkened stretch of sidewalk.
"That''s where we came up with the title Blue Condition," he says. "These moments are interspersed throughout the show.There is nothing as powerful as a big band, it''s a real pleasure to sing in front of it. I have Karolyn Kaffer as my musical director and conductor. She''s 28 years old and is also the lead alto sax soloist."
In addition to Kaffer, he mentions the talents of drummer Tony Pia and pianist Mark McMillan.
Caldwell was last in the area as part of Sandy Shore''s Concerts by the Bay series in 1996. The show sold out a week in advance and last year he sold out three nights at the prestigous Kimball''s East venue in Emeryville where he''ll be again sometime in the next few months. He''s toured most of last year with this band and plans to continue throughout the coming year with the same group. A new album is scheduled for release in March with mostly original tunes and he plans to play some of those Sunday night.
"I wouldn''t term what we''re doing jazz," he says, "although there are moments in the show that are very jazz in the purist sense of the word. I give the band room to play, and they do a few songs alone.
"If I owe the response to this record to anyone," he replies to my question about the impact of Harry Connick, Jr., "it would be the sucess of Natalie Cole''s Unforgettable, which reintroduced contemporary listeners to that style of music. It immediately took the bad label off. When it''s hip to be square it becomes hip."
Bobby Caldwell, A Sandy Shore Production at the Embassy Suite''s Monterey Bay Hotel, Sunday, 7pm. Only general admission tickets left: $25/advance, available through BASS, Do Re Mi in The Barnyard and Sandy Shore Productions, 649-1223, or $30 at the door.
Without a doubt, The Left-Coast Jazz All-Stars are on to something hot. At their show at The Jazz Store last Saturday, there were moments where the musicians provoked an air of electricity that surged through the audience, most notably the piano solos of Jeff Chimenti where his virtuosity and rhythmic intensity brought shouts of approval from a few pleased patrons. It''s safe to say each member had something special to contribute: Dave Ellis offered fluid and well-constructed saxophone lines and arrangement of a Chick Corea song; Kyle Eastwood has developed into an accomplished bass player, and provided the composition of the evening, described as "challenging" by band leader and trumpet player, Clyde Sutliff. His treatment of a Miles Davis composition showed his ability loud and clear through the mute, and drummer Ben Leinbach skillfully drove the band adding interesting, colorful phrasing throughout their two sets. By far, the second set was where the sparks flew. Hopefully this group can find the time to continue to create despite the many varied schedules of each player.
At The Jazz Store Friday, catch vocalist Stephanie Crawford and the Babatunde Trio. Her deep, sultry voice and delivery are in the tradition of Abbey Lincoln and Betty Carter. She is back in the States after living many years in Paris where she received France''s top jazz award, the Django D''Or for best vocalist in 1993. Her last recording The Gift is on French label Concorde. Stephanie Crawford, The Jazz Store, Friday, $20, 624-6431.
At Blue Fin Billiards there are a few shows worth mentioning. Friday night, The Karma Band plays its swan song as lead singer Karma "directs her energies to recording a CD and performing in a musical," says guitarist in the band Steve Moseley. "She is advancing her career and we''re happy for her. All our friends and fans should come out." That also spells an end to Grrrl''s Night Out at Whitey''s Place on Wednesdays.
Moseley and Scottfree intend to continue working on other projects: Scottfree with rock band Gel, and Moseley on "some new things."
"There''s not a lot going on with Human Doings," Moseley says, referring to his other band. "We need more money to finish up a recording project we''ve been working on." Karma Band, Blue Fin Billiards, Friday, 9pm, no cover, 375-7000.
Even though it''s a Sunday and what most people might consider an off night on the town, Carl Gollwitzer has booked an up-and-coming singer out of the San Diego area whose CD on Cargo Records, Isn''t Life Fine sounds really fine. Lisa Sanders is an African American who has a beautiful voice and a group of songs she has written that are in the league with Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell compositions. It''s always difficult to try and peg a sound when the variety and quality of songs are consistently interesting. I found that to be the case with Sanders'' work. She will be accompanied by her band and I would be remiss if I didn''t encourage you strongly to get out and hear her music. Lisa Sanders, Blue Fin Cafe, Sunday, 9pm, no cover, 375-7000.