Savannah Jazz Festival: 2012 Jody Espina

On the first two days there were plenty of surprises and last night, the 25th, they just kept  on coming.  Last night at Blowin’ Smoke, The Jody Espina Quartet took the stage for the evening.  I see him as much as I can, he has a standing gig here in Savannah every weekend at Rancho Allegre.  I have had the pleasure and the honor of being invited to play a song with on a few occasions.  Not only is he a world class saxophonist and musician, but he is also a class act as a man.  He also surrounds himself with other world class musicians so every time you see him in concert, it is a real treat!  He had Howard Paul on guitar, Billy Huffman on drums and Delbert Felix on Bass.  That in itself would have made for a great show, it always does.

Jody told a story of how he sat in with a latin jazz band a few months ago.  It was more like he “snuck in”  anyway, the band leader looked over and thought “cool”.  He said to Jody, “You played with me for free, so I am going to play with you for free”  This happened last night.  That man’s name is David Lugo.  He plays the congos and he was phenomenal.  I had never heard Jody’s band with this sound and it added a whole new flavor to the show. So now, it became the Jody Espina Quintet!

It said in the program there was going to be a vocalist, Claire Frazier.  She lives in Savannah now, but she has been all over the place and even opened a show for Ella Fitzgerald in her younger days!  I had also never heard Jody’s band with a vocalist. It was just surprise after another. So by the time Claire got onstage it was now, The Jody Espina Sextet!   She did a version of “What a Wonderful World”  and on the the final verse-and I don’t know how she did it- she said “Like Louis himself would say”  and she sang in a “Louis” voice, it was amazing.

During the second set, Kirk Lee, a fluglehorn player sat in for a a few tunes.  So for a while it was The Jody Espina Septet!  There was a lot of  things going on on that stage last night.  To the audience everything was seamless.  I find when Jody plays a show, you never know what is going to happen.  He was also doing things on the saxophone last night that were amazing.  I have seen him play a lot, and every time he just leaves me  in awe!  Last night was no exception.   If ever you get the chance to see him, DO IT!  You will not be disappointed.

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