October 29, 2010. It had been a long time coming but despite venue changes and line-up adjustments the inaugural American Smooth Jazz Awards finally got under way at the theatre for the performing arts in Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History. Tucked away in Washington Park on the south side of the ‘windy city’ it proved to be an ideal setting for the sell out crowd who were treated to almost four hours of excellent music interspersed with the giving of awards and the honoring of some of the genre’s finest. The show was anchored in part by WLFM 87.7 on-air personality Rick O’Dell who was helped in no small measure by Chicago’s own Nick Colionne whose magnetic personality ensured that, whenever he was around, there was barely a dull moment. Indeed it was Colionne’s solo performance that opened the proceedings and in an evening that included appearances by Marc Antoine, Darren Rahn and Jackiem Joyner there were some truly memorable moments.
Among these was a zesty session by what was tagged as the ‘Up & Coming Artists Band’ which comprised Nate Harasim on keys; Cindy Bradley, trumpet; Kyle Wolverton on sax; Bryan Lubeck, acoustic guitar; Joey Edwin on electric guitar, drummer Hannah Ford and the always outstanding Mike Manson on bass. In fact Bradley scooped the award for ‘new artist of the year’ but in terms of accolades the one and only Peter White really cleaned up. Winning ‘guitarist of the year’, ‘album of the year’ and ‘song of the year’ he also delivered what was arguably the highlight of the evening with his rendition of this year’s number one hot tune ‘Bright’.
Right up there with it was Richard Elliot and his unparalleled version of the classic ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’, The Sax Pack blowing the doors off with ‘Fallin’ For You’ and perhaps best of all the infectious ‘Roll On’ by the excellent Four 80 East.
Amongst all of that there was still time for Brian Simpson to offer up a particularly jazzy version of his radio hit ‘South Beach’ and for the collective artists to provide a high energy finale by paying tribute to the late Wayman Tisdale with his seminal ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’ from the 2004 ‘Hang Time’ CD.
Next up will be the Oasis Awards in San Diego, CA on March 10 to 13 2011 and Smooth Jazz Therapy will again be there to bring you the news.