Darell Christopher Brings Spring Break Show to the Jazz Depot
For a while there, vocalist Darell Christopher thought about calling Sunday’sJazz Depot show March Madness.
Instead, he settled on Spring Break. After all, it’s about happiness, not madness. And it’s also about finally getting a break from what has sometimes seemed like an interminable Oklahoma winter.
“Everybody’s ready to get rid of winter,” he explains. “We’re ready to move on into spring and summer. So we just want to have some happy music, R&B and jazz, and make people feel like, `Wow. The sun has come out and spring is here.’ I think everybody is ready for a little sunshine, a little happiness – and we just want to play some music that makes people feel good.”
Cover of Bill Withers
So patrons can expect a tune or two from legendary soul singer Bill Withers, for instance, as well as George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” They can also expect a group of musicians who Christopher believes too often perform “under the radar.”
“These guys just don’t want a lot of attention, but people are always in for a treat when they hear them play,” he says. “I’m always trying to get them out there to do more solos and just enjoy the fact that they’re extremely talented musicians.”
The band includes Spike Gore, perhaps best known as the regular drummer for the late Earl Clark’s band Spectrum, along with guitarist Mark Furnas and keyboardist Aaron Henderson.
“Aaron and I started playing together several years ago, when he was teaching music at Booker T. Washington [High School],” notes Christopher. “He’s still teaching, but he’s also the music director for a wonderful church, Faith Christian out in north Tulsa. I like him because he has that gospel feel, but he also brings in R&B. He’s just an amazing musician, and he arranges music. I could not do it without him.
“He’s the maestro. We don’t call him Aaron; we call him the maestro, and it’s just been a blast to play with him for the last few years. ”
“Spike Gore,” Christopher adds, “is one of the best drummers I know. I don’t know if it’s his gospel roots or his rhythm, but I come alive when he’s drumming back there. I get excited, because he’s just a great drummer.”
Veteran guitarist Furnas is known for his work in a variety of genres, as well as for his association with the legendary music impresario Jim Halsey. Like the other two musicians on Sunday’s show, he has worked with Christopher for several years.
“We’ve put together a pretty nice group, and it’s all about chemistry,” says Christopher. “Playing with guys is always about liking their company, you know, and I can hang out with these guys in any situation. Whether we’re playing jazz, blues, gospel, or R&B, they’re right there, and it’s so much fun.”
In addition to performing with his band, Christopher is a regular emcee for the JazzDepot’s Sunday concert series. It’s a job he relishes.
“I’ve got the best seat in the house,” he says. “It’s an honor. [Musicians] come in from L.A., they come in from Seattle, they come in from all over the world, and I’m the guy who gets to get up there and hype their shows a little bit. That’s exciting to me.”
He’s similarly enthusiastic about the Depot’s local acts.
“Every Sunday, whether you know the artists or not, you know you’re going to get quality music,” he explains. “People know they’re going to witness a great performance when they get there. So I always feel that if I’m going to bring in a show, I want to bring something that’s up to the standards of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall ofFame, because we have a reputation for incredible talent.”
“For me, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame represents what’s best aboutOklahoma. Tulsa has a history, but when it comes to multiculturalism, when it comes to diversity, the Jazz Hall of Fame represents all of that – because music brings people together. A hundred years from now, people will look back and say, `What a cool thing it was that these guys got together and knocked down all the racial barriers, all the frustrating things they were dealing with, and brought people together in a family-oriented environment,'” he concludes. “To be part of that, man, is an honor.”
Darell Christopher’s Spring Break show is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, March 16, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s JazzDepot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, fromwww.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.
The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2014 Spring Concert Series.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fameis a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.