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Carlos Vega drummer

The 4th Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert

December 8, 2001
Saturday Night
@ La Ve Lee
12514 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, CA

Carlos Vega Memorial Drum Scholorship - click here for more info

Carlos Vega drummer Carlos Vega drummer Carlos Vega drummer
Carlos Vega drummer Carlos Vega drummer Carlos Vega drummer

Video Clips

Carlos Vega drummer Carlos Vega drummer
Carlos Vega drummer Carlos Vega drummer

Note : These videos are in Quicktime

A Few Reviews...

When David Garfield assembles a musical event together you are he finds the best session musicians and singers this town has to offer. Hence forth was another winner that came off like gangbusters at the 4th Annual Carlos Vega Memorial birthday concert. It has become an institution now. Basically all of Garfield's friends have once again come together to pay tribute Vega who one of L.A.'s most respected session drummers. Garfield and Vega go back more than 25 years working together in L.A. on countless recordings and performances.

Like last year (this was the second year I attended) it was gathering of top notch all-star players that rotated on various songs.

The first set opened w/a new Garfield original entitled "Dessert Hideaway", which will be on his forthcoming CD that he's still working on. It was an upbeat number w/some oriental overtones and embellishments and it featured an amazing solo by Hiroshima's June Kuramoto on the Japanese koto. The koto is an extremely difficult instrument to improvise on and almost never heard in jazz ensembles or western music period. But Kuramoto played w/such ease where it blended in just beatifully. Also Steve Lukather added some interesting guitar licks where he sounded almost middle eastern the way he bended his notes. The rest of the band was Jimmy Johnson-bass, Will Kennedy-drums, Larry Williams-sax, Garfield-keys, and Luis Conte-percussion.

Next was a tune that Garfield wrote w/Vega for the first Los Lobotomys' CD(the band they fronted back in the '90's)called, "Oozer". This was a fusionic tour de force, loud, and intense and featured very high energetic tenor work from Williams.

Then things really heated up with "E Minor Shuffle", the opening track from the "Tribute To Jeff Porcaro", CD. This is loosely based on a line from Steely Dan's "Black Friday" and highlighted solos from Garfield, raw electronic guitar wizardry from Lukather that rocked the house, and a terrific drum solo from Sting's Vinnie Colaiuta who replaced Kennedy on this number.

Now it was time for the singers to come and show their stuff: Alex Ligertwood, Arnold McCuller, Pauline Wilson(former of Seawind), Moon Calhoun, and legendary session vocalist Rosemary Butler. Each vocalist had a feature number the whole night.

McCuller kicked it off w/a great samba number courtesy of Donald Fagen, "Goodbye Look" from the Nightfly CD. He sang w/such vibrancy and emotion and the singers provided excellent harmonies. Not to mention to some tasty sax work from Williams.

Ms. Wilson fronted w/her most signature tune, "Follow Your Road" which she recorded w/Seawind 25 years ago. She still sings w/power and volume and hit the high notes w/no trouble. She sang like a nightengale. She flew in all the way from Hawaii just to be at this gig.

Former Santana frontman Ligertwood preached like a reverend on Al Green's "Love And Happiness" with his gritty vocals and the edition of Paul Jackson Jr. on guitar made some raw blues stylings. It also highlighted some vocal vamps from Butler as well.

The set closed out w/Butler singing "You've Got A Friend". She has aged a few years but still had a pair of pipes that wouldn't quit. Her voice has graced the albums of and toured w/Jackson Browne, Linda Rondstandt, Nicolette Larson, and the Doobie Bros. The audience response to the set was very enthusiatic. You could tell they were real westcoast music buffs.

The numbers in the second set were a few repeats from the previous but the ones that weren't played in the first included an awesome arrangement of Miles Davis' "Seven Steps To Heaven" which Vega personally arranged for one of the bands that years ago at the NAMM Winter Show. This was done in a latin style known as songo which is like salsa double time, extremely fast. Poncho Sanchez eat your heart. I never heard it like this. Williams was blowing away like Coltrane on this number and Conte was banging away on the timbales big time as a solo plus Kennedy took a few choruses as well. This was raw and intense and a real pelvic thruster.

Moon Calhoun did a decent reading of the lesser known Stevie Wonder Brazilianesque, "Bird Of Beauty", the singers displayed wonderful scat backups and some brilliant guitar from Jackson Jr. He didn't play like a toned-town smooth jazzer that night. He had his axe turned way up.

Ligertwood did a raucous version of Steely Dan's "Josie" that rocked and made the original sound quite lame. Not to mention some yells midway through from Wilson.

Then the band romped through Willie Bobo's "Fried Neckbones" where all the singers did the familiar chorus. Some call and response solos were displayed by Garfield, Lukather, Jackson Jr., and Williams that had everyone breathless. Conte once again was a whizz on timbales on this rollicking cha-cha. Garfield said he likes playing that song because he and Vega used to play it in Bobo's band back in 1976.

For an encore the band did the salsa version of "Layla" with Ligertwood only singing the chorus, the rest was instrumental with spotlights from Williams, Lukather, Jackson Jr., and Conte again.

Many fans of Garfield's came from abroad. At the table next to me were two gentleman that came from Switzerland and Italy just to be at this event. And it turns out the Swissman had seen my reviews on the Westcoast mailing lists.

It was yet another unforgettable evening of virtuoso musicianship and vocalizing and hats off to "Creatchy" Garfield for pulling this off w/no flaws paying tribute to a friend the music world misses.

ps. Reader wish me luck as I submit this review to L.A. Jazz Scene for print, I hope.

Helene Lieberman
(818) 464-6848 x6984 - voicemail / fax

Man.. what can I say.. It was deep and I had a blast. Thanks for makin it happen. I KNOW 'Los was there. I could feel him. I miss him so much, I know we all do, those that REALLY knew him and were blessed to call him a friend and brother. I know I'm a better person because of him.
Peace and Love bro. You were awesome!
- Luke oxox

i just wanted to tell you how much i enjoyed your show sat nite... it was a very professional and entertaining show !!!! you are the best.... sincerely,
- wufhead

Hi David:
Well, once again, you blew the roof off the house for Carlos. Man, it was a great night. So much love in the room. You folks just blend together with so much intensity, it's just amazing. Great to see all of you, and it's cool that you guys jam so hard for a great guy. Thanks for intro'ing me to my "long lost cousin" Rosemary Butler. I've admired her work for so many years with many of my faves like Jackson Browne, etc. She had me meet her cousin, Kate Butler & her husband. A trip. Anyway, just a truly fantastic night of your grooves. Lots of people play well, but you guys have the best groove - the best! The whole room moved with you cats. Everybody's singing was soulful as ever. You know, I live for this event every year since he left. It's like I can mystically be near him when I'm with you guys. He's definitely in the room when you guys play.

I've been wanting to ask you all year and forgot. The big photo of Carlos that "oversees" the band - is there a way that I could borrow the transparency? I'd love to make a copy of it, such a great image of him on his DW's. I didn't know until after you played Fried Neckbones that you & Carlos played with Willie Bobo. I dug him as well. Saw him one night at Dante's in 76 -77 or so, before they turned it into a car lot. Might have seen you two way back then without knowing it. It's all one big circle, man. Anyway, David, thanks for a great night. I'll look forward to seeing you guys soon. Hope your holidays are full of peace, friends & family.
- Jeff Butler

Line-up : David Garfield (keyboards), Pauline Wilson (vocals), Rosemary Butler (vocals), Alex Ligertwood (vocals, percussion), Arnold McCuller (vocals), Moon Calhoun (vocals), Paul Jackson Jr (guitars), Steve Lukather (guitars), Jimmy Johnson (bass), Will Kennedy (drums), Luis Conte (percussion), Larry Williams (saxophones)....
with special guests Vinnie Colaiuta (drums on two songs in the first set), Ralph Humphrey (drums on one song in the second set) and June Kuramoto (traditional Japanese instrument whose name I don't remember on "Desert Hideaway")... unexpected guest Chris Trujillo (percussion)

It was my first time attending this special concert to pay tribute to Carlos. To say that the club was sold out is an understatement! And to say that the crowd was treated with outstanding performances and overwhelmed with the quality of the musicianship displayed by "the Cats" is a light reflection of the truth. But what else can one expects with a stellar line-up like the one put together by Creatchy? There were some familiar faces in the audience as well as Toto's Steve Porcaro and studio legendary bass player Neil Stubenhaus stopped by but did not play with the band.

When music is played the way it was that night, it takes you to places where there's no words to express what one feels. It was for me a very intimate and moving experience to attend this show and see these magnificent musicians put their heart and soul into their art.

The show started with "Desert Hideaway" featuring June Kuramoto followed by an astonishing sax solo from Larry Williams (Seawind, Al Jarreau, etc.) on "Oozer". Then came "E Minor Shuffle" that gave Luke the opportunity to strech out. Creatchy introduced Arnold McCuller on the next song "Goodbye Look" before Pauline Wilson came in to deliver a great version of "Follow Your Road" from her solo album "Intuition". The song was dedicated to Carlos who drummed on the orginianl version. After this quieter moment the band went full speed ahead into the classic "Love & Happiness" that has Alex Ligertwood singing like it was his last day on earth backed by Pauline, Rosy, Arnold and Moon Calhoun on vocals. The fun carried on with a latin flavored version of "Layla" (from David Garfiled's "I Am The Cat..... Man" solo album) sung by Alex and featuring Luis Conte. The first set was closed by the superb Rosemary Butler moving rendition of "You've Got A Friend".

The second set kicked off with "E Minor Shuffle" followed by "Seven Steps". Moon Calhoun was then brought onto the stage to sing "Bird Of Beauty". Alex took over for "Josie" before the band went into "Fried Neckbones". The last three songs consisted of even better versions of "Follow Your Road" (w/ Pauline), "Love & Happiness" (w/ Alex) and "You've Got A Friend" (w/ Rosemary). The band then definitively closed the evening with a fiery version of Karizma's classic "Corbitt Van Brauer".

There were so many unforgettable moments during that gig that it is almost impossible to list them. I totally fell in love with Pauline Wilson's astounding voice. Alex's been one of my favourite singers for years and is, in my book, one of the most soulful vocalists ever. Rosemary Butler.... how is it possible that such a great voice has not become more widely known? Arnold McCuller proved that he's not one of the most sought-after vocalist in the business by chance. I already had seen Luke in concert in different settings (w/ Los Lobotomies, jamming with Paul Rodgers, w/ Toto, etc) but I never saw him playing like that night with so much fire and stamina. Paul Jackson Jr has to be one of the most musical guitar players out there. His technique is so pure, and his sound is beautiful. Seeing him trading licks with Luke was so inspiring. Jimmy "Flim" Johnson kept the band together and grooved like crazy. Will Kennedy killed me with solid chops and lots of feeling. He played for the songs and provided the band with perfect rhythmic support. Creatchy's always inspired keyboards playing was nothing but sheer pleasure & joy to listen to. Luis Conte must be from another planet :-) He's unbelievable! Larry Williams' high energy and superb tone conquered me. I look forward to listening to his brand new solo album.

A very touching moment happened when Moon Calhoun came on stage and sang with the band. I did not know about Moon's past until I got back to Switzerland. After having read what he went through I must say that I consider him as a great example for all of us to continue living through thick and thin and not give up. I regret that I could not tell him that face to face when I got to chat with him after the gig. I hope that he's gonna read this and know that I will think of him next time I'll go through some tough times. Thanks for the inspiration!

I wanted to say a big "thank you" to all the musicians and technicians involved in this unforgettable night of music. A special "thank you" to my friend David Garfield (& Patricia) for his kindness and all the rest! To Pauline, Rosemary, Alex (we have a new friend in "Julien Dupont"!!), Jimmy (I love Flim & The BB's!), Will, Larry and Paul: thank you for your time and the chats! I really appreciated everything you did for me as well as your partience.

Carlos must be smiling in Heaven.... it must feel good to have such wonderful friends as David Garfield and The Cats.

Laurent Biehly, Switzerland

Check out exciting moments from past concerts :

December 7, 2008 - 11th Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert

December 8, 2007 - 10th Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert

December 9, 2006 - 9th Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert

December 3, 2005 - 8th Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert

December 11, 2004 - 7th Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert

December 12th, 2003 - 6th Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert

December 18th, 2002 - 5th Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert

December 8th, 2001 - 4th Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert

December 9th, 2000 - 3rd Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert

December 7th, 1998 - 1st Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert

The Carlos Vega Memorial Drum Scholorship - click here for more info