Legendary Isley Brothers thrill atop benefit bill for Mayfield Family Foundation

Isley Brothers Photos by Andy Argyrakis
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The latest in Narski Music’s bi-annual “A Night Of Music & Comedy” series took the festivities to the next level as the legendary soul/psychedelic rock/funk-focused Isley Brothers did their thing alongside jazz giant Roy Ayers and comedian Guy Torry. In addition to almost four hours worth of cumulative entertainment, fans who visited the Emil and Patricia A. Jones Convocation Center at Chicago State University were also raising money for the Mayfield Family Foundation to assist senior citizens with medical prescriptions, support services for single parents, mentoring at risk teens, arts education and much more.

And of course, the audience had their chance to participate at regular intervals, from the call and response dance-a-thon “It’s Your Thing” to the way back machine’s “Twist And Shout,” and then simply “Shout,” a living, breathing, bouncing piece of music history that further enshrined the Isley Brothers as one of America’s all time greatest bands.

Those good deeds were rewarded in spades as the Grammy Award winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted headliners pumped vigorous life into a stable of hits that stretched from the late 1950s right up through recent R. Kelly collaborations. Opening with the charge of “Fight The Power” and “That Lady” found 63-year-old Ernie running a close second to one time Isley sideman Jimi Hendrix in terms of red hot guitar grinds, while 74-year-old Ronald’s voice was silky smooth through quiet storms “Between The Sheets,” “Footsteps In The Dark” and “Groove With You.”
Roy Ayers
Along the 90-minute journey, the Isleys, a six-piece band, three background singers and a dancer also cast their nets as wide as yacht rock covers “Hello It’s Me” and “Summer Breeze,” the gospel ballad “Jesus Loves Me” (dedicated to the late Whitney Houston), plus a modern, R&B-themed “Mr. Biggs” medley. And of course, the audience had their chance to participate at regular intervals, from the call and response dance-a-thon “It’s Your Thing” to the way back machine’s “Twist And Shout,” and then simply “Shout,” a living, breathing, bouncing piece of music history that further enshrined the Isley Brothers as one of America’s all time greatest bands.

Singer/songwriter/vibraphone player Roy Ayers kept right in line with such diversity, bouncing all around the jazz fusion field, recalling many periods of his frequently sampled catalogue, including “Everybody Loves The Sunshine,” “Sweet Tears” and “Life Is Just A Moment.” Funny man Guy Torry (“The Kings Of Comedy,” “Martin,” “Good News,” “The Strip”) warmed it all up with his volunteer-heavy brand of libido-themed improv to incite loads of deep bellied laughs among the constant grooves.

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