David Sanborn/ Craig Chaquico August 26, 2005
David Sanborn and Craig Chaquico at Cerritos:
Loud and Proud
By Glen Creason
As usual, there was not a speck of dust on the glittering Performing Arts Center as I commenced my twelfth season of musical joy under the cool flags of Cerritos. Then again, if there was any evident on Friday night it would have been blasted off by high volume sound that belied the title smooth jazz as was billed in the David Sanborn and Craig Chaquico pairing of Friday evening. It’s not that they both were not terrific but they were loud; loud like hard rock loud; like ear-plugs loud; like all Baby Boomers could hear every note loud. Perhaps the intimation that contemporary jazz means wandering, low-pressure noodling drove them to pump it up but they had the sounds ripping and much of the audience rocking at this show.
Chaquico opened and pretty much stole the show with his affable stage presence and guitar virtuosity. His strengths are built from decades of performance as a prodigy for Jefferson Starship and then for the past ten years as a very popular “smooth” jazz instrumentalist. After a flashy intro with samples of phone messages, electronic blurts and ethereal forest ambient noise Chaquico got down to business with “Jazz Noon” that opened a few ears and ear plug packages but showed his exuberant and joyful style. Chaquico often plays off his fine band lead by extraordinary sax-man Kevin Paladini, keyboardist Ozzie Ahlers and one fine drummer named Wade Olsen. His second number traveled “any road that doesn’t lead to work” which struck a resonant chord with me and was followed by the sweet groove of “Dream Date” filled with humor and intricate interplay within the group. “Autumn Blue” may have been the sets best, with Paladini shining brightly and Chaquico giving tribute to his father by playing this one with strong emotion. “Return of the Eagle” was a journey of exploration that made that bird fly inside the hall and “Gathering of the Tribes” alongside Ozzie Ahler’s “Equinox” expanded the space with guitar notes like stars in the sky of the Chaquico constellation. “Find Your Way Back” harkened back to the Starship days and gave the artist a chance to meet the assembled face to face as he took a stroll around the orchestra seats flashing smiles and notes.
David Sanborn gave the Cerritos faithful more long, strong and well amplified sounds coming out of the chute with Herbie Mann’s old gem “Comin’ Home Baby” and “Full House” that showed the sax-maestro and Sanborn band to be in fine fettle. Sanborn’s tone is strong, well-measured and straightforward as he demonstrated in the lyrical “Macudo” and the evening highlight of “Chicago Song” which blew away the crowd in a tribute to the Windy city. They broke stride momentarily with the ethereal, dreamy “Lisa” but galloped to the finish line with a rollicking version of King Curtis’ “Soul Serenade” and an encore of “the Dream” that instead of reflecting its subject matter raised the temperatures in the hall markedly. Sanborn was more than ably assisted by the wondrous organ playing of Rickey Peterson who with superb bassist Christian McBride and quietly sensational guitarist Nick Moroch performed their own concert alongside the fluid alto sax of the headliner.