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  When Jazz Meets Blues

  Review by Billy C., Photos by Sydd C.

Jazz meets BluesThe Blues and Jazz fans in Saint Louis were the real beneficiaries of the ROW fundraiser at the Pageant on Saturday night. The organization ROW (Redevelopment Opportunities for Women Inc.) gave us more than our monies worth.

Kim Massie, our own Saint Louis Blues icon, opened. We all know her well from her weekly appearances at the Beale on Broadway. She put it over the top Saturday night. Comradery and competition are close cousins. I think Kim wanted to be sure Denise didn't show her up.

Denise Thimes, who was introduced by her father, Lou "Fatha" Thimes, displayed a phenomenal Jazz range. It is simply incredible to hear such a deep rich low voice in sultry bass followed by such a sweet high falsetto. She pulled at the strings of our emotions with the beauty of her melodies in ways that words can't speak. Her scat took us to a fun place where jazz legends play and show us the real range of the human voice.

I will not forget to mention the musicians who gave their all and then some: Tony Simmons - Keyboard, Greg Haynes - Guitar, Amos Brewer - Saxophone, John King - Bass, and Jeremy Haynes on the Drums. The guitar made me think about BB King and the Sax made me think about the Jazz heroes of old. The keyboard solos made me want to get up and dance. There was room for everyone. The bass solo was unique and fun and the drummer kept us all tapping and dancing.

Host & Honorary Chair Vickie Newton and Co-Host Debbie Alexander drew us in and made us feel like we were part of the whole thing. They gave us the flavor of the artist we were hearing and let us know about the other great artists who were in the audience. Co-Host Gene Dobbs Bradford lost control of himself and rushed onto the stage with his harmonica blazing when Denise and Kim came on stage for an encore and a duet. He was a real plus for the show.

We got to meet Mae Wheeler, Ruby Sain, Jeanie Trevor, and other local greats. Anybody who was there should have been working the crowd. For you fans of Blues and Jazz you would have been pleased to meet some of our local stars.

A story was told, indirectly. We can all think of Blues, Jazz and Gospel Music as cousins. The way the show was orchestrated seemed to bring that out for me. Kim opened with Blues but sang some Blues with Spiritual overtones, Luther Van Dross' song "My Father's Hand" was particularly touching. She sang that as a tribute to her father.

At the end of her raucous set with hard driving jazz and scat, Denise issued a challenge to the Blues Diva to come on stage and the banter and the duet went back and forth. We soon learned that Kim could jazz it up and Denise could sound as Bluesy as she wanted. We were all on our feet dancing and jamming, as the keyboard got wild. About then is when Gene jumped in with his Harmonica. If you love Harmonica as I do you were jumping and dancing for sure by then.

Some of the particularly memorable songs of the evening were: Kim Massie's versions of "Mama You Treat your Daughter Mean" and "I'm in a Fever Girl Don't Mess Around with Me". Denise Thimes opened with "Smack Dab in the Middle" and we sat up on the edges of our chairs. I love Norah Jones but I think Denise took her signature song, "I Wish that I Could Fly Away" to the place where Jazz lives. She took a classic and used it for a playground where she improvised to make it her own.

You have figured out by now that I could go on and on. We had a blast and the music was rousing throughout. We were exhausted at the end and we knew we had just seen a great show.

  ~ Billy C.

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