The Sunday Jams Reunion @ the Alchemy
Sunday, August 2, 2009
“It’s pretty much the same songs, just sixteen years on,” Robert J opined, just after he and several of his cohorts had kicked off their first Sunday Jam in as many years.
The bar was full of former patrons of Morgan’s (which eventually became Wonder’s and then the Alchemy) and Bittersweet (where Frida’s is now located on State St.), not to mention friends, former roommates, musicians – one of whom traveled from Los Angeles for the occasion.
Really, it was as if the players had never left off. Seasoned pros joined Robert J on most every occasion of his nearly ten-year run with the Sunday Jams. Bassist Bruce Alford, drummer Ken Keppler, guitarist Jay Moran, percussionist Pauli Ryan; all of whom and more were on hand for this reunion. Especially notable, and the real impetus for the reunion, was the presence of Chris Bank, now a resident of Colorado. Bank and Robert J were the ringleaders of the original jams.
Bank was in top form, sounding just as funky as he did twenty years ago. His voice hasn’t been limited at all and his sax playing was just as fiery as ever. He also plays a mean mouth trumpet (he imitates trumpet with just his lips). I had forgotten that he did that and recalled what a humorous and simultaneously fascinating ability he had to do that.
Both Robert J and Moran were having a blast, each contributing tastesful solos. At one point they exchanged licks and, throughtout the night, lots of grins. Alford also shone on bass, taking a few inspired solos himself and drawing big applause. Mickey Silvers had a little trouble getting his harp mike working but when he did he showed no signs of rustiness, either. Later, Silvers would bring up his thirteen-year-old son, who shredded his way through “Johnny B. Goode” and a Stevie Ray Vaughn number. Keyboardist Dave Adler (Gomers) has been involved with nearly every Robert J recording for many years now and provided many of the musical highlights with crazed soloing and tasty organ fills.
Being there reminded me of just how much fun those jams were all those years ago. Partying all weekend and then topping it off with the Sunday Jams was like putting the icing on the cake of life.