Roy Ayers Tralf Music Hall, Buffalo NY November 1

Roy Ayers Tralf Music Hall, Buffalo NY November 1
"Whether you know it or not, Buffalo’s the most conscious city we’ve played to” proclaimed vibist Roy Ayers towards the end of a slamming late-night set to a sold-out crowd of Buffalonians.

Things got off to a rocky start when the opener "We Live In Brooklyn, Baby” became an unintentional mash-up with Marvin Gaye’s "Flying High in the Friendly Sky” due to a sound system mishap. The kinks were ironed out and it went uphill immediately with "Everybody Loves The Sunshine” and a smouldering take on Dizzy Gillespie’s "Night In Tunisia,” which featured a motherfucker of a solo from tenor-saxophonist Ray Gaskins who managed to blow snippets of both "A Love Supreme” and "My Favourite Things.”

"Sweet Tears,” which was dedicated to hometown hero (and Ayers collaborator) Rick James, featured Ayers’ moodiest and most atmospheric solo of the night. The ambience went from midnight jazz lounge to Saturday night mass immediately with "Don’t Stop The Feeling,” which got everyone up on their feet and the mention of the word Obama turned the joint into a small political rally that was simply too infectious to resist.

Regrettably, classics like "Running Away” and the 1983 obscurity "D.C. City” (which would have been wonderfully topical) were missing. But that’s a minor quibble. Overall, Roy Ayers delivered an evening of kick-ass musicianship, optimism and great, umm, vibes, to a battered city anxious for change.