Tal Wilkenfeld, the precocious and talented bass player performed with her 3 piece band in the intimate Sweetwater club.
Unbelievable to say that she first landed on my radar 10 years ago when performing in Jeff Beck’s group at Eric Clapton’s Crossroad’s concert in Chicago. Then she appeared to be 16. Today, a decade later, she appears to be 20, her actual age in ’07.
In case you are just hearing of her, here are some of the illuminati she has played with: Jimmy Page, Prince, Eric Clapton, Herbie Hancock, David Gilmour , and Chick Corea.
So I am always curious to see an artist, who has played in giant stadiums with some of the most famous in the rock/jazz world, chose to tour in a club holding 200 or so. What is the motivation?
The simple speculation is that Tal must be responding to her artistic muse. She knows she will be in demand when financial realities loom. It must gives her the confidence to chose a project like this.
Orginally a guitarist, she decided the bass might be a less competitive way to display her talents in the top echelon. To make such a call she likely drew on her instincts, perhaps a gutsy shrewdness, or the pluck of a teenager, that many never find or lose later in life.
In any event here she is with her band which transforms into a power trio, an ambient psychedelic orchestra, a jazz-rock fusion fury, or a cover band depending on the need. It also show cases Tal’s writing AND singing. Who knew she could sing!
She bantered with the audience throughout the night, cracking jokes,. She was warm and genuine toward a mostly geezer audience, given the era of the stars I cited above. She also wasn’t above skewering a hipster wannabe who attempted a lame compliment by requesting she pass on his gratitude to Mr Beck for giving Tal her first big break.
She made an hommage to Bob Weir playing one of his songs tune in the backyard of the Grateful Dead. She brought on stage Steve Ferrone, long time drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, doing a great version of “You Wreck Me.”
The highlight of the evening for me was Tal spotting an unknown saxophonist in the audience because she noticed he had brought his axe. Curious why anyone would schlep a music instrument into a concert he was PAYING to see, Simon (as he liked to be called) answered that he had just come from a rehearsal of his band. She picked up from his accent that he was a fellow Aussie and an instant bond was formed. Coyly suggesting he join the band for a song, the audience lustily cheered the suggestion.
While not quite duplicating the moment at the Cow Palace many years ago when Pete Townsend asked if there was a drummer in the house to replace Keith Moon, who had passed out from an overdose of horse tranquilizers, this moment was nonetheless electric. T
Luckily for the audience he guy was fearless and good. The band soon found a grove around which he wrapped the sound from his horn and displayed his considerable chops.
I love moments like this. Jazz and rock when they are at there best are generous idioms. Spontaneous joy ignites. The state of being attained whenever we do what we love is almost sacred. I was happy to share in that love this memorable evening.