Faces, Will Downing and Gerald Albright

It was a head-bobbin’, foot-stompin’, finger-snappin’ night of jazz as three headliners took to the stage at the University of Texas at Arlington’s historic Texas Hall this past weekend.

After a fantastic opening performance by Houston saxophonist, Shakkir, local "Funkytown" (Fort Worth) favorites, Faces, took the stage -- dishing out an energetic and charismatic performance, in true Faces tradition. Continue to look for great things from this trio as saxophonists Dewayne Washington and Ahmad Johnson, along with trumpeter Marcus Rockwell prepare to host and perform at an upcoming New Year’s Eve event on December 31st. They will also perform with Wayman Tisdale and Joe McBride at the Bass Hall in January, and play in February at a Valentine’s Day extravaganza.

In addition to a host of jazz favorites including "Shake It Up" (compilation by Boney James and Rick Braun) and gospel hit "No Weapon", Faces debuted a new song at the show entitled "30 Seconds."

"We named it ’30 Seconds’ because it took 30 seconds to write," says saxophonist Dewayne Washington. "We were in rehearsal thinking - ‘we need another song for the show,’ so I said ‘ok,’ thought about it for a second and came back with the song, ’30 seconds.’"

Among the night’s highlights, Washington adds, was the opportunity to share the stage with a man he refers to as his idol -- the one and only Gerald Albright.

Speaking of Mr. Albright, the jazz great put on an electrifying performance himself (to match his electric blue outfit), that managed to dazzle the audience and bring the overflowing crowd, including yours truly, to its feet. Hailing from South Central Los Angeles, Albright began his legendary career in the late 80’s and was largely influenced by saxophonists John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley. From his latest CD entitled "Groovology," Albright performed "Don’t Hold Back," and "Ain’t No Stoppin’" and from his 1990 album, "Dream Come True," he performed my all-time Albright favorite, an instrumental of Johnny Gill’s "My, My, My." Also on the menu were Albright’s versions of Tony Toni Tone’s "Anniversary," and the 1987 single that put him on the map -- Luther Vandross’ "So Amazing."

To conclude the evening, a sultry, sexy and beautifully bald Will Downing took us on a Sensual Journey -- which just happens to be the title of his latest album. With new tracks like "I Can’t Help It" and "Don’t Talk to Me Like That," Downing captivated the crowd with his smooth and distinctive R&B sound.

Known to his fans as the "Master of Soulful Seduction," Downing, like Albright, rose to stardom in the late 1980’s and was also largely influenced by such jazz greats as John Coltrane. He previously sang with Anita Baker’s "Wally Jump Junior" group and later employed Baker as a producer on his album. And while Downing is known to be a huge hit abroad in England, he proved to be just as big right here in lil’ ol’ Arlington, Texas! Throughout the evening, Downing was serenaded by a swarm of ladies who seemed impressed by his vocal range but especially mesmerized by his sensual aura. "I Go Crazy," "Wishing on a Star," "Is This Love?" and "Sorry I" were among the Downing’s musical highlights. By the way, my hat goes off to the lovely lady in red, Tann, who undoubtedly made Ms. Farrell very proud with her comparable rendition of my all-time Downing favorite, "Nothing Has Ever Felt Like This (duet with Rachelle Farrell).

My hat goes off to K.P. Entertainment for putting on a wonderful show, chock-full of stellar performances!

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