Roy Ayres in Concert
I have been fortunate to see Roy Ayres on at least four occasions, each time witnessing an inspired performance from a musician whose music has thrilled generations.
Ayres always puts on a good show, being sure to play the songs his fans love to hear, but always presenting them in a slightly different way, helping to keep the music fresh. Interspersed with his hits from the past he plays other jazz numbers, all with incredible improvisations on his KAT (an electronic version of a vibraphone), backed by musicians of the highest calibre.
In addition to being a composer, singer, and vibraphonist, Ayres is also a showman. In one performance I saw him drop his vibraphone mallet; another musician quickly bent down to pick it up, and when his mouth became level with a microphone he took over the vocal line from Ayres with perfect timing. It was a very slick act. In another performance I witnessed a scat singing battle between him and his drummer, Dwight Gassaway. And then there are audience participation sections, where the audience is encouraged to sing along to some of his songs – Everybody Loves the Sunshine being a notable example. However, in spite of the various antics it is always the music that remains the main focus.
Whereas some bands I’ve seen sound just like their CDs in concert, Ayres sounds better...much better. This isn’t a criticism of his CDs, but praise for the energy and impact his live performances have.
If there were marks for a ‘feel good’ factor for concerts, Roy Ayres would score full points. I go to see him every time he comes to town.