Last night I had the pleasure to see my client Melvin Lee Davis tear it up on stage with other Jazz greats, Lee Ritenour, Sonny Emory and Jesse Milliner at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, Georgia. These Jazz masters were in Atlanta for Lee Ritenour’s 6 String Theory U.S. Tour. Those of you who know my client Melvin you know that he plays the bass like no other and has earned the title, “Keeper of the Low Notes” from Jazz legends who have played with him for over 30 years. Melvin was discovered at the age of 16 by drummer Buddy Miles, and has worked with a slew of artists around the world including Chaka Khan, Gerald Albright, Will Downing, George Benson, Kirk and Kevin Whalum, Ledisi, Angie Stone, the Pointer Sisters, Queen Latifah, Jeff Kashiwa, Eric Marienthal, and many more. I can’t wait for Melvin’s next solo album to be released. This will make solo album number four…and from what I have heard so far- this one will knock your socks off! Check out the picture of us backstage during intermission….
Lee Ritenour of course always stirs our soul as he rocks the mess out of his guitars and engages the crowd with his amazing smile, charm and wit. Lee has so many songs under his belt that I wonder how he decides which to perform at each venue; that’s a lot of hit records to consider. He too got his start at the age of 16, but with the famous group the Mamas and Papas. At the age of 18 he was accompanying Lena Horne and Tony Bennett. For over 40 years Lee Ritenour has blessed millions of Jazz lovers with more than 40 albums. He has won a Grammy and received 17 Grammy nominations. Lee has been working and rocking for a long time, and he still has plenty of songs left to create and share.
Then there is the great Sonny Emory who makes you look at a drum set in an entirely different light. I have never seen a person play drums the way Sonny does. His form, focus, and flow is jaw-dropping amazing. I can recall a concert years ago when he played with Earth, Wind, and Fire- and that was a magical night to remember. I love when bands let each musician break out in a solo, so last night when Sonny broke those drums down he had the crowd on their feet shouting, whistling, clapping, and praising this Atlanta native. When Melvin first mentioned that Sonny was performing with the band for this tour it went clear over my head, then when he said, “you know Sonny don’t you? You know…Sonny who played with Earth, Wind, and Fire…” then bam it hit me and oh my goodness I couldn’t wait to hear Sonny play. To meet him backstage was also a treat. I had already met Lee and Jesse at the Atlanta Hartsfield airport earlier that day, but this was my first time meeting Sonny- and his personality is so warm yet powerful- just like the balance of strength and grace he has to have as a drummer. What a talented person!
But the band was not complete without what Ritenour referred to as the “foundation” of a band, the keyboardist/pianist, Jesse Milliner from Germany. Milliner can play his butt off. Half Jamaican and half German, Ritenour said that Milliner has true soul funk blended with classic structure and organization. This man is awesome and guess what? He’s the dean over the department of Jazz and Popular Music at the University of Music in Mainz, Germany. He knows music!
If you have not heard this collaboration of musicians together then you better buy your ticket to the show nearest you! Also be sure to visit Melvin’s site ,check out his work over the years, buy his CDs and tickets to his performances, and prepare yourself his upcoming album!
© Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. natashaforeman.com