The 89-year-old saxophonist Heath and 85-year-old pianist Harris did not miss one beat while performing in front of a sold out crowd, the first in many years. Joined by Michael Mossman on the trumpet, Steve Davis on the trombone, Al Foster on the drums and Bob Cranshaw on the bass, the five men performed classic hits, including Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley.
Throughout the night, audiences were entertained by the jumping rhythm with jittery beats to the smooth, flowing notes. Ever so often, the performers would slow it down with pretty ballads. If it were decades ago, the beautiful room would be filled with dancing youths, but present-day table service with wine and cheeses isn’t too bad, right?
Songs performed included hits like ‘Dig,’ ‘Autumn Leaves,’ ‘There Will Never Be Another You,’ and ‘Walkin’.’ Each man had his time to shine. While the audience believed that the musicians could not top one another after such strong performances, from an impactful trombone to a bluesy piano piece, each was given a solo exercise their strengths.
The concert was especially grandiose considering the men had not even performed together at all in preparation for the show. While they knew each other, Friday’s performance was the first time they ever took the stage together.
Just as the audience experienced their individual styles of music, so did they. As they performed, you could see the excitement, respect and pure awe that each player had for one another.
Cranshaw, who is a bassist for ‘Sesame Street’ and was an original bass player for ‘Saturday Night Live,’ explained that it was all about looking and listening to each other in order to perform. Each person on stage has performed with different people, so the way they play a certain tune might be different from the others. For instance, Mossman’s ‘Walkin’’ was played much faster than Heath anticipated, so he made a joke calling it ‘Running.’
“There are a few things that we know we are going to do, like we did ballads but we didn’t know what ballads we were going to do until we got on stage,” he said. “We know the tunes, and once we get up there, we have to figure out how we are going to do the tunes and how are we going to back up each other.”
“The audience thinks we have rehearsed it but really we’re experiencing it for the first time just like them,” he added. “That’s part of the mystery; we’re improvising, we’re creating an arrangement and everyone is zeroed in listening and watching each other.”
Like Cranshaw, the other performers have other projects and jobs that they are working on. Foster and Heath each continue to perform around the world. Mossman and Davis are both professors. It’s certainly a special night when these talented professionals can get together and crank out popular songs as if they were playing together for years.