A chilly night in the queen city brought out a lot of fans for some hot jazz at Sydney’s Martini and Wine Bar in downtown to hear the latest from bassist John Dillard. Right away he hit the ground running with the title track from his latest release, Let’s Ride. The band sounded tight as keyboardist Howard McNair shined while giving way to John’s heavy bass. They followed it up with another one from the same release, “Gotta Make This Right.” John took off on the bass and showed us why we were all there. The only thing missing was Art Sherrod’s sax, but McNair filled in nicely once again on the keys. Joe Lindsay was the featured guitarist, so the played one of his tunes “Let It Rain” that featured both him and Dillard. Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” offered the band a good one to stretch out a little bit. The whole crowd got into this one as Mc Nair kept it funky on keys and Brian Houze kept them straight ahead on the drums. They showed great syncopation on the Chick Corea classic “Spain” as well as inspired versatility on George Duke’s “Geneva.” They finished out the set with always inspiring “Rebound” from Wayman Tisdale. It was good to hear this one live again, and John played it up well.
The second set started off hot again with a little Michael Jackson “PYT” funking right into some “Knee Deep” as well. He brought out “Cruise Control” from Let’s Ride that featured the bass man in all his glory. The whole crowd got into it as he took it to an awesome ending. He followed it up with “I Need You” that featured Joe Lindsay once more. Joe brought out another one of his songs called “Break Time” that slowed the pace down a little. The band stretched it out on a few more tunes as the evening came to a close.
We all had to be impressed with the range of songs on hand tonight as Dillard moved from classics to his own material with ease. The band was tight throughout the set, and was featured throughout the evening. It was great to see John in a solo setting just to see how he would perform. Make sure you get out to see these guys when they’re in your town!