rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 06/14/2006
Harlan Jefferson Presents Soul Explosion to Shogun
by Lisa Palmeno

Contemporary Jazz Saxophonist Harlan Jefferson gave a whole lotta soul to the Silver Lounge on April 16, Easter Sunday night. Jefferson brought in many special guest musicians to present Soul Explosion Part II: A Tribute to the Memory of Late Soul Legends Barry White; Wilson Picket; Luther Vandross; Ray Charles; Rick James; Lou Rawls; Tyrone Davis; Grover Washington, Jr.; and Curtis Mayfield.


Guest players included the serious funk band Too Deep; Dan Eisman of the oldies cover band Missing Links; Clutch Cargo's Don Beinborn; Funk Attack's Thurston Sherod; Matt Goodwin; Jazz Saxophonist Ryan Swanson; and Melvin Robinson. Gene Phillips from 106.3 F.M. in Chicago hosted the tribute show inside the Shogun Japanese Restaurant in Rockford, IL.


Always the showman and looking for new ways to offer quality entertainment, Jefferson mingles standards, jazz, blues, and soul at many of his shows. Exploring the deeper side of the groove with his own band, Funk Attack, Jefferson recorded an album of the same name in 2002 and has since been putting on Soul Night at various venues in the area such as Kryptonite, Dub's, and LT's.  Soul Night features Jefferson, various players sitting in, and open mic poetry readings.


The success of Soul Night in Rockford and Chicago (Back Room, Cotton Club) spurred Jefferson to get funkier and put together larger events featuring soul music. Shogun's Silver Lounge has the spacious, classy atmosphere for just such a holiday extravaganza. While a thunderstorm crashed down outside, the inside of the lounge was bursting with rich, melodic sounds from local veteran musicians.


Harlan opened the show backed by an arsenal of funksters: Keyboardist Cheeseburger (Mighty Clouds of Joy); Hamisi Jackson on drums (Mary J. Blige); Melvin "Blood" Robinson on guitar (Ronnie Laws);  Mike Cesario on percussion and conga; and Trumpeter Al Armstrong, who just finished his masters degree in music. They kicked off the night with the Ray Charles hit "I Got a Woman."  Guest Vocalist Thurston Sherod followed with the enchanting Lou Rawls' hit "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine."  Missing Links' vocalist Dan Eisman took the mic next and performed a memorable duet with Beth Ann Beale on Tyrone Davis' "Can I Change My Mind?" Luciana stepped up to sing Luther Vandross' "A House is Not a Home."


The instrumental "Mr. Magic" followed with Ryan Swanson joining the band on sax. Swanson showed serious signs of maturity as a player throughout the very lengthy, jazz standard, which also provided ample time for trumpet, guitar, bass and keyboard solos. Harlan finished the tune with a special solo of his own.


Al Armstrong was the featured performer on "Super Star." The band continued on with guest performers and a medley of hits. Wilson Picket's "Mustang Sally" spurred a lot of dancers to the floor, and many found partners as Beth Ann began singing Curtis Mayfield's "Let's Do It Again."


The band then offered dancers a chance to win $100. The winners of the dance contest were Tammy and Maurice. Clutch Cargo's Don Beinborn got into the mix on "Baby What'd I Say." The band ended the night with a relaxed, easy version of "Midnight Hour," although it was quite a ways before midnight when the band finished. After all, it was Easter Sunday.

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