For the last 2 years the Mid-States Jazz Camp in Dayton, Ohio has hired 6 of the worlds finest jazz musicians to work with the young musicians who attend the camp. Each of these years these musicians have traveled 1 hour south to Cincinnati for a Wednesday night performance. Now Wednesday night is not the best night to draw a crowd for a jazz show here. But for the last 2 years "Cecil McBee and the NYC Jazz All-Stars" performed before a large, enthusiastic mid-week audience, with this year's show being the jazz event of this year in Cincinnati so far.
Besides the veteran bassist McBee, the group consists of tenor saxophonist Don Braden, trumpeter Terell Stafford, trombonist Conrad Herwig, pianist Mulgrew Miller, and drummer Carl Allen, all established players on today's acoustic jazz scene. While this is truly an all-star group, they didn't just jam on standards, like some all-star groups do. They played a mixture of jazz classics and original compositions by the band members, Most notable were the finger poppin' swing of "The Vail Jumpers'' and "Dance of the One" both written by Braden, the uptempo burn of Joe Henderson's "The Kicker" and Herwig's "The Tesseract", and a KILLER Herwig arrangement of Wayne Shorter's "Deluge", with Allen providing an "Elvinish" feel without resorting to imitation.
There must be no greater thrill for musicians to perform for an audience who "feels it" and "gives it back". On this night the audience "felt it", and would not contain their enthusiasm, as shouts of "yeah baby!" and "alright now!" filled the air, and roars of approvals came forth after each passionate, note filled solo from Herwig, Stafford, and Braden. Now Miller, McBee, and Allen also played great solos and provided their usual solid support, but it was the horns that got everyone fired up on this summer evening. At the end of the evening I was soaked with sweat, my hands were sore from clapping and my back was sore from rocking in my chair. But it didn't matter, for my spirit was uplifted.