Thursday, July 31, 2008

Really Jazzed

A few weeks ago, my friend Kirk Whalum, sent me a text message. (Check out his website – he’s a world-class sax player with more honors and accolades than I could list) He was booked to do a show at the Arena Theater in Houston on Friday the 25th of July and said he’d put aside a couple of tickets for me.

I was pretty whipped from the trip to Nashville, the concert and the family visit, etc. Heck, the travel alone can wear me out. If you do it often, you know what I mean.

But I got home in time and Friday afternoon Kirk sent another text. He said that he probably wouldn’t go on until 9:30 PM. So we modified the dinner plans, and worked our way to the theater at about 9:15.

The opening (of three) act was still on.

But as we took our seats and listened to Terisa Griffin, we knew this was going to be a special evening. Terisa and her band were in the middle of her set and the crowd was in the palm of her hand.

The Arena Theater is an old venue here in Houston. I played there a few times back in the late 80s. It’s been up and down, through closings and re-openings, under new management several times. This was the first time I’d been there in years. It’s unique because it’s an in-the-round setting and the stage revolves. One of the first things we heard Terisa say was something to the effect of “Wow, I look out there and see somebody and then I look again and they’re gone!”

During one of her last songs, she sat on a road case ( the band is visible front and back – you get to see all the workings of the drummer, the backs of amps, etc. It’s kinda cool).
While she was singing, she tipped over, hit the floor in all her glory and splendor, propped her elbow up on the case and just kept bringing it. The place went wild.

The next artist was Jonathan Butler. The third text I got from Kirk on Friday, after he informed me that he (the headliner) wouldn’t go on until late, was “on second thought, don’t miss Jonathan Butler!”

I didn’t know Jonathan’s music. Let me tell you right now, if you ever get a chance to see Kirk or Jonathan, you’ll be blown away. I told Kirk after the show that we expected to be entertained but never expected to be ministered to and so blessed by the evening and the music and the heart!

These guys love Jesus. In what was an absolutely no-holds-barred professional jazz show, the Name was being praised and glorified in every note. If you pay attention to the countenance of Jonathan Butler and Kirk Whalum, you’ll see Christ in them. And can they ever play!

Jonathan’s a world class singer and guitar player. Most of his set was praise music of a kind you won’t hear very often. Go and buy his CDs!!

And Kirk Whalum makes a sax speak like few others that have ever played. Both of these guys throw down and make music for the audience but it’s clear who they play for. The room could be full or not and the passion would still be there.

I saw Kirk on a promotional tour one night. He was playing at a Border’s Bookstore in Houston sponsored by the smooth jazz station here in town. He was promoting a new CD called “Roundtrip.” There were probably 40 people there and he played with the same passion and energy that was there at the Arena Theater on Friday night. That speaks.

It thrills me to see brothers in different genres of music taking a joyful stand and declaring their love and gratitude to a Merciful, Gracious Savior. The lyrics to one of Jonathan’s songs says “The greatest thing that ever happened to me was when Jesus came into my life.” Kirk told the crowd after his very first song, “Few people have had such a tremendous impact on my music and my life as Jonathan Butler.” Thank you, Kirk and Jonathan for your praise to the Master with every breath and with every note in every single place you go.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, wherever you go – work the field of souls. It takes all of us.


1 comment:

wil said...

Thanks for the good words about these 2 awesome artists that I've been listening to since the 80's. Speaking of which, it was around the same time I met you twice in Upstate NY. Now that I'm living in Houston, I can't wait to be ministered to by you again! Take care bro & hopefully we'll meet up again soon.

Wil Davis