Every Wednesday night, the Aloha Tower Marketplace on the waterfront lights up with the best live jazz in the islands. Next Wednesday, the biggest big band to ever hit the Gordon Biersch stage will do up the classics right.
World-renowned trumpeter DeShannon Higa reunites with legendary crooner Jimmy Borges December 5, 6:30 p.m. for the big band extravaganza. Expect plenty of good fun stories, colorful anecdotes, nostalgia, and special twists to standards by Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, and more.
“I’m anxious to work with DeShannon’s guys,” Borges said. “New energy to some old tunes.” The new energy DeShannon Higa brings to any event is always pushing boundaries, inventing funked-up sounds, often delving in the hip hop and electronica, tying in the traditional with the current.
Three of Higa’s bands surpass expectations, inviting younger and younger audiences to try his kind of broadened jazz incorporating modern electronica, hip hop, Latin/salsa, and a hard-driving bop beat. His urban jazz-electronica dance band gr00ve.imProV.arTiSts, neo-bop quartet Quadpod, and jazz quintet Bop Tribal all do something different with the forms.
Bop Tribal’s 2008, award-winning debut album took the jazz world by storm with its plays on bop. Downbeat’s John Ephland gave it four stars, admiring the effort as the band “moves from evoking the music of John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner, as on the bluesy ‘One Bad Song A Day,’ to Horace Silver with the whimsical waltz ‘Melancholic Toes.’ In this all-original program of eight songs, pianist/leader Satomi Yarimizo, trumpeter/flugelhorn player DeShannon Higa, tenorist Reggie Padilla, bassist Shawn Conley and drummer Abe Lagrimas Jr. establish straight-ahead moods convincingly, as with the robust, swinging title track, which sets up a series of energetic and engaging solos.”
Higa has proven time and time again that he’s comfortable within any jazz genre and even many parts beyond. It’ll indeed be interesting to see the amalgam once he and the ever-improvisational Jimmy Borges get together.
Borges made a career out of remaking classics out of known and revered standards, especially from Frank Sinatra’s songbook. In 1990, Kalihi-born, St. Louis grad local boy Borges, who started gigging hard and fast in San Francisco, was the only singer given access into Sinatra’s vault of musical arrangements in preparation for a tribute concert with the Honolulu Symphony. Borges won “Best Concert of the Year” from Honolulu Magazine readers, prompting four subsequent encore concerts.
The list of Borges’ accomplishments included the Hawaii Academy of Recording Artists/Na Hoku Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award (2008), Music Foundation of Hawaii Legacy Lifetime Achievement as a Vocalist Award (2006), and one of the first recipients of the “50 Notable Islanders” honor (2009) since Statehood.
Everywhere he goes, the crowd follows. He regularly sells out his gigs, from local and international jazz festivals, to stints with the Honolulu Symphony, Del Courtney Band at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and the Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, and Illinois Jacquet Big Bands.
So make reservations early for prime seating at Honolulu’s Gordon Biersch next Wednesday: (808) 599-4877. Get there early to make Happy Hour, 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m., in the bar and cocktail areas. Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant is located in downtown Honolulu on 1 Aloha Tower Drive, Suite 1123.