So when the legendary Roy Ayers was brought to Ginny’s Supper Club, the downstairs venue that accompanies Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem was announced, there was no way that Flea Market Funk wasn’t going. In fact, what a perfect date night. This intimate lounge is a nod to the speakeasies of the twenties and its present day contribution to a Harlem Renaissance is nothing short of spectacular. From the period decor, to the friendly, well dressed, staff, to the cocktails and menu, you’re taken back to classy Harlem Nights right here in 2012. I was expecting Billie Holiday to come sauntering out on to the floor and belt out a number at any second. Now when the flyer says “dinner and a show”, it means get your tickets for the show, and don’t forget to reserve your table through Ginny’s. Keep that in mind. The two do not go hand in hand. After we were seated, we were treated to a down home culinary feast: home made cornbread (probably the best I’ve ever had), honey ginger spare ribs, fried yard bird and waffles with chicken liver butter and bourbon maple syrup, and an endive, fried shrimp and onion seed salad that was one of the tastiest salads FMF has ever encountered. On the strength of the food, it was a good start. Combine the food with one of Jazz’s greats and you’re on your way.
Ayers, who was nervously introduced by a period clad female emcee who claimed she had to “Google him” (word to the wise…this is Roy Ayers baby, be cool) while Roy quipped “Keep it simple”, launched into his short supper set. Highlights included “Searchin’ “, “Sweet Tears”, “We Live In Brooklyn”, a cover of Rick James’ “Give It To Me Baby”, “Don’t Stop the Feeling” and a sing along version with the entire crowd of “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”. In between there was an impromptu Parliament “Knee Deep” jam, Ayers trading vocal riffs while sax player Raeford Gaskins played them on the sax, some funky, funky bass work by Donald Nicks, great drumming by Bernard “Pocket” Davis, and at the end, one very satisfied crowd. I like the idea of a Supper club show. The space was tight, the sound was crystal clear, and Roy Ayers was on point from the time he stepped on stage. Truly one of the great Jazz musicians of our times, Ayers showed his prowess on every track. In other words, he has still got it. Here’s to more Wax Poetics shows and the preservation of Jazz history through Ginny’s.
You can find out more about Ginny’s Supper Club here.
Roy Ayers – “Everybody Loves the Sunshine Live at Ginny’s”
Video courtesy of themightyman