Roy AyersMadnice Marauders @ 24 Kitchen Street 17/8/17
Sitting in the garden at the back of 24 Kitchen Street, listening to the perfect summer playlist from The No Fakin’ Djs, my mind is drawn back to a very special night in the mid-90s. Following a night of irresponsible drinking in Soho, I was wandering past Ronnie Scott’s when I noticed the unmistakable figure of ROY AYERS, master of the vibes with a voice to melt a glacier. We spoke for a while and he was so charming I felt no shame in asking him to join me in a rendition of his classic Everybody Loves The Sunshine. Just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, his band, Ubiquity turn up. “Hey Del,” shouts Roy “It’s Ubiquity.” They join in the two-man party and before we know it, the moment has passed, but the memory has remained forever. I asked Roy that night if we could come in to see the show, as it had sold out. “No,” said Roy. Ubiquity denied.
So, tonight is a big deal. This is Roy Ayers, the guy who provided one of the greatest soundtracks ever for the Blaxploitation classic, Coffy. The guy whose track Everybody Loves The Sunshine brought has brought perfect summer grooves to every corner of the world since 1976. The guy who made it almost acceptable to utter the words to a person; “I wanna kiss you – on your poo poo la la.”
Ayers, all 77 years of him, takes to the tiny stage in front of a rammed and sweaty audience. It’s no great entrance as he fumbles in his coat pockets for what seems like an eternity for his shades. Grinning like Trump never happened and wearing a frankly exceptional blue beanie hat, Ayers launches into Running Away, a vintage of some 30 years. Roy stares full into the eyes of the front row, the ladies in front of me are swooning as Roy Shooby Doos into their faces with a wild twinkle in his eyes.
Everybody Loves The Sunshine makes an early appearance and in what looks like it’s going to be a recurring motif for the whole show, Ayers does his bit and then passes the baton onto each of his band. Drums, keys and the funkiest five string bass this side of dodge make the sweetest of sounds and Ayers stands back and basks in it. The tune goes on for about twenty minutes and is unrecognisable for the most time as the band take it down their own avenues, rough it up and dump it back on Ayers’ sidewalk to pick up, shake off and return to its rightful owner.
Green And Gold, a rare track that was unearthed in 2004 on Virgin Ubiquity, an album of unheard nuggets, gets a fine airing tonight. Lesser folks than myself would claim that the basslines here are too phat and stoopid to even be allowed in the building. This guy has thumbs from another planet. Ayers’ agility to cross those vibes does not reflect a man born in 1940, he could easily make a grown soul weep.
Searchin’, from Ayers’ ’76 masterpiece Vibrations, takes us into the stratosphere and drops us into the middle of Central Park on a day when the weather can only be described as close! Close your eyes you’re in central park, open your eyes… Kitchen Street, close your eyes… Central Park, you get the idea. This is a night of frantic, soulful paradise that only a short standard jazz interlude can slow down for the briefest of moments. Ayers may have been doing this since the late-60s but he’s showing no sign of slowing down. A dream fulfilled, Roy Ayers and Del in the same room with the most beautiful of vibes drifting through the air. It’s almost romantic. Come back soon Roy, Liverpool loves you.