During the summer of 2007, the City of Houston was inundated with numerous rainstorms and a severe tropical depression, all of which culminated into some exceedingly unusual weather during a time of the year when it hardly if ever rains. For more than 45 days, Houston had experienced unprecedented flooding and undue hardship that was weather based. But on August 17th, a storm of a different sort blew through Houston and this time out it was a good thing. What was just as profound was this was a jazz based phenomenon and featured four of the best-known artists in music to date.
Billed as the "Summer Storm Tour" consisting of Norman Brown, Peabo Bryson, Jeff Lorber and Marion Meadows, the featured event was smooth jazz and a tinge of R&B. For the most part the pairing was different, in that an R&B artist was inherently tied to a jazz act; plus the show was a resurrection of fond memories when Peabo Bryson was at his peak during the 1970s and ‘80s. But even with such an unnatural pairing, fans of both genres left the Verizon Wireless Theater well pleased.
As mainstays of smooth jazz, Norman Brown and Marion Meadows are always held in the highest esteem by Houston connoisseurs, but the addition of one of the founding pioneers of the genre made the show even more enticing. Brown and Meadows are frequent visitors to the Houston and have always enthralled audiences, but Jeff Lorber was a sweet treat because he is seldom seen as a headliner in the city. By and large, Jeff is one of the most prolific keyboardists in jazz today and his addition complimented the musical flair of Norman and Marion strategically.
With the introduction of Norman Brown to kick things off, there was a laminar flow of jazz activated energy once the evening began. From Norman to Jeff and then Marion, jazz aficionados were treated to some truly remarkable music that dated back to the onset of all three musicians’ careers. They covered each other’s music and spread the gospel according to jazz in a manner that is not often heard on smooth jazz radio. The most interesting aspect of any so-called contemporary/smooth jazz concert is this: "What one hears on the radio is not what transpires in a live setting." Live performances are full of funk, melodic grooves and an intensity that is not conducive to any of the formats heard over the airwaves. Every smooth jazz concert provides a window of opportunity that is light years ahead of the typical radio format.
The chemistry experienced and heard during the singular and plural moments of the "Summer Storm" concert was nothing out of the ordinary because all three artists are without a doubt, world-class musicians. During the performance, Brown and Meadows provided the high-end pitch as Lorber supplemented the two with a base steeped in tradition. By the time Peabo Bryson came onto the stage, the audience was ready for resuscitation and a laid back moment. Peabo’s style is steeped in romantic melodic interludes, where one can reflect life upon and love.
Peabo Bryson is by far one of music’s most revered male vocalists. Although he seldom records and has not had a hit in years, his music is still in constant demand due to its rich sultry texture. Peabo’s addition was a definite plus by nights end; in fact, any doubts about his being a member of "Summer Storm" were easily removed and recanted. This concert provided the kind of variety that was all-inclusive and a cross-section of jazz/R&B; both genres are closely related in a number of ways. What was heard during "Summer Storm" was more than just a welcome respite from the previously experienced bad weather; the show was entertaining, well choreographed and on a much higher plane than the redundancy heard on most smooth jazz radio stations.