Brian Jordan Band w/ Bernie Worrell & George Porter Jr. 1.23.11
Words By J-man
Photos & Videos By Carly Marthis & J-man
Audio Recording By Deadhead Corey
Brian Jordan Live at Cervantes' Other Side on January 23, 2011. <--- Direct Archive Link
Immediately the crowd was surrounded by heavy instrumentation. Dave Watts was killing the drums, Bernie Worrell was wailing on the organ, George Porter Jr. was thumbing a low groove on the bass, Brian Jordan began to shred. Then entered Jen Durkin with her deeply powerful vocal forces followed by Pete Wall's saxophone and the trumpet player's (who's name escapes me) timed blows into complete destruction.
"Holy shit! What are we in for!?!" I vocalized to my friends.
I was surrounded by some of my favorite folks. I fell into several tickets through Cervantes' Facebook ticket giveaway contests, so I thought what better than to invite a bunch of folks out to what I knew would amount to a superjam. The first song of the evening clocked in around eleven minutes. That set the pace for the evening. The second song opened up into transitioning solos allowing each musician an opportunity to showcase their abilities. It went around the stage, Bernie played some funky licks that directly reflected the continuous strength of his chops. That cat can fucking play! Pete jumped right in and began to dismantle Cervantes. The gentleman on the trumpet was right behind Pete. In my opinion, this was the first musically questionable portion of the evening. The trumpet player's tone wasn't the best and his skill set left me wondering through whom he was connected.
George saved the jam and attacked the low end, and with that I noticed the crowd began to sway from their head down to the floor. The funk was being brought by the funkmasters. Surrounded by the next generation of funk, you could tell Bernie and George were really enjoying themselves. The next jam featured George on the vocals. His voice is low, and though he doesn't have perfect tonal quality, he can hit some really high notes. His voice is extremely fitting and relevant within' the funk genre' and that evening brought the house down. The melodies had tightened up since the beginning of the set, yet again the trumpet player's fluctuating tone left something to be desired. Bernie came to the rescue with a loose groovin' solo.
"Mr. George Porter! George Porter!" yelled Bernie excitedly at the close of the jam.
The next song fired up with a low funky groove, some cowbell and Jen singing, "Yeah, yeah, yeah..." The groove swung with Brian's funk guitar riffs as Bernie chimed in on the high end of the organ. After a handful of songs, I was impressed at this random group of musicians who had been thrown into this somewhat structured project. With that Brian Jordan took my focus playing like I had never seen him play. He took over with some well arranged guitar playing. It was heavy and modal, yet extremely funky.
The last song of the short first set wrapped up and Carly and I walked across the floor towards the backstage area to see to it that Bernie was all set. As we approached the stage access I could see someone talking to Bernie as he was walking off. We stepped around them and the gentleman wandered off.
"Here take this." Bernie said to me holding out his hand.
I put out my palm and he dropped a handful of nuggets into my hand. Bernie doesn't smoke marijuana and the gentleman who was talking to him gave Bernie a handful of pot. Generous in one regard, yet a little odd in another. Bernie, who just wanted to rid himself of this new "problem," turned to me for a solution. I obliged as I chuckled to myself thinking about what was taking place. Bernie Worrell was handing me a handful of nugs!
We went downstairs backstage once again and enjoyed the nonsense that ensued. Folks had come from far and wide to see this jam. We were in the presence of the band, friends of the band, members of the Motet and the Nu Classics who opened the show. At some point George came down the stairs and approached me ready to do the interview...
Back up stairs folks were wandering around, conversing and laughing... the energy was high. The band took the stage as a different incarnation. Joey Porter from the Motet joined on keys and Andy Irvine from the Brian Jordan Trio stepped up on bass. You could tell the music had switched directions a little bit with a jazzier post funk progressive edge. I stood backstage with Bernie, as Jen filmed the set from backstage. When Jen departed I pulled my camera out for a different perspective...
At one point, Brian tried to call Bernie back up on stage and Bernie smiled and respectfully declined pointing to Joey Porter who had been destroying the keys. It was an interesting moment. I could see that Bernie was enjoying watching Dave, Joey and Andy play. I could feel the energy flowing as the music became heavier and reflected a younger, more aggressive influence. A few songs later they were back in full swing with the original slated line-up. They play a great version of "People Say" featuring some solid guitar work from Brian. Again George's vocals fit perfectly with the mood of the song. I thought that out of all of the songs they played that evening, George and Jen sounded the best together on "People Say." The end of the song brought an intensely killer solo from the Wizard of Woo, Bernie.
The closer of the set was the now almost funk traditional "Red Hot Momma" written by none other than Bernie Worrell. It was a fury of rage from the first note. I think just the excitement of being able to play a funk classic with the composer himself, who also happened to be a legend, elevated the band. Everyone on stage was smiling and feeling it as they gave it everything they had. Brian absolutely took over with devastating effects... I feared for my life. Then entered Jen Durkin and Bernie to finish the job. With that, the set came to a close.
"One more time for our illustrious band leader; Brian Jordan..." Bernie said with excitement!
"I have an obligation here. I have to make a public service announcement. (Laughs) Just for the record, if you're not sick of seeing me, I'll be back here next week. Next Saturday in Boulder. Just in case you're not just tired of seein' me! Come on out and see the Pearl Street Allstars at the Boulder Theatre next Saturday," George said laughing.
"Check it out! They'll never get tired of seeing a legend!" Bernie (a legend himself) stated about George.
They returned to the stage a few minutes later for an extended encore. Once again Brian led off doing his thing then passing it off to Bernie for a crunchy clavinet solo. My mind began to scramble as Bernie tickled the keys with incredible precision.
"I want to take you higher!" George and Jen sang, belting.
Another sub-par trumpet solo and the show came to a close. Murray and I headed backstage to kick it with Pete and Bernie. We sat on the couch and waited for the evening to wind down. I took Bernie's bag as he posed for pictures. We walked up the stairs and out the front door of the venue into the cool Denver night towards Murray's rental car.
"Hey Bernie, I'm going snowboarding this Tuesday... Wanna go?" said Murray to Bernie with a smirk.
"(Laughs) I don't think so, man..." Bernie said laughing as he could see the humor in Murray's proposal.
We got into the car and took Bernie back to the hotel. Murray opened the door for Bernie and reached out a hand for a handshake. Bernie walked right past his hand and hugged him.
"Be Careful snowboarding, man." Bernie said with a smile.
"Thanks for everything, Justin. Be safe." He said, hugging me as well.
He turned around and walked into the Curtis hotel. I looked up at the dark sky, closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I got back into the car and drove home reflecting on the evening...
J-man's Photo Gallery From The Show