Darrell Nulisch performing as part of the Beaches International Jazz Festival at Kew Gardens, July 27. Tickets: free. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
Just as the sunday events of the 15th annual Beaches International Jazz Festival were getting underway at Kew Gardens , the skies opened, and with a thundering bang a huge downpour sent the crowd scurrying to the nearest coffee joints for cover. Fortunately, this only caused a minor delay, and soon blankets and lawn chairs came out again in full force. Even the main generator blowing up didn't stop the music, and by the time Texas blues harp specialist Darrell Nulisch took the stage, the crowd was primed.
Playing tunes mostly from his new album, Times Like These (Severn), and dipping only slightly into his substantial back catalogue proved not to be a problem, as it was all about getting a groove on, something his band and the fans had no problem doing.
Guitarist Jon Moeller all but stole the show with endlessly fluid solos that allowed keyboardist Benjie Porecki to squeeze in just a few random solos. Bassist Steve Gomes and drummer Robb Stupka made up a super-tight rhythm section that might have exploded had they been given the green light to cut loose.
As for Nulisch, he has a powerful, distinctive voice, equally inspired by the blues and R&B, as anyone familiar with his former band, Texas Heat, can attest. The one letdown was that he only played harmonica on a couple of tunes - not nearly enough for someone as proficient as Nulisch.
Not that that detracted from a great performance. The soulful-singing Nulisch managed to captivate the diverse crowd of casual spectators aged nine to 90, who all seemed to leave with a funkier stride than they came with.