The Rolling Stones may have had Wendesday, May 30th off, but several of their sideman used the time off in Chicago to perform an intimate, jazzy show at Martyrs’. The Rolling Stones Project is the brain child of Stone’s saxophonist Tim Ries, who writes jazz arrangements of Rolling Stones hits. Ries was joined last night by Bernard Fowler, longtime backup singer for the Stones, as well as Darryl Jones, who has played bass with them since Bill Wyman retired in 1993. The impressive Depaul Unniversity Big Band, directed by Bob Lark, completed the group.
Ries served as emcee for the evening, giving a background on how each piece came to be arranged. The crowd knew they were in for a good night as Ries and the Depaul Unniversity Big Band opened the show with an instrumental version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Bernard Fowler joined them on stage for a beautiful rendition of the early Stones’ song “Lady Jane”. Fowler provided masterful and dramatic vocals throughout the night. Ries alternated between tenor and soprano saxophone proving that he is a master musician with every note. He was also humble and encouraging as he handed off his solos to the Depaul musicians. The first set also included a jazz waltz version of “Miss You” and a salsa version of “Under My Thumb” that had the audience tapping their toes.
At intermission, the good people at Martyr’s turned on the TV so concert goers could catch up on the Blackhawks, who were playing a game 7 playoff match against the Red Wings. The game was still tied and the TV went off as Ries came back to the stage. Halfway through his introduction of the second set, cheers of “Hawks win” overtook the crowd. Ries smiled graciously as the crowd had it’s celebration and offered his congratulations stating, “It’s a good night in Chicago”.
The second set began with a pair of Finnish, violinist sisters performing “Brown Sugar” which was exceptionally charming due to their accents. They also played a gorgeous Finnish folk song and a Hungarian gypsy song with a polka bounce. Chicago’s own, Darryl Jones joined the stage for “Honkey Tonk Women” and he kept the rhythm going for the remainder of the set. Perhaps the high point of the night was a soulful version of “Ruby Tuesday” in which Fowler made that song his own. The audience and even his fellow musicians were hanging on his every note. It was truly remarkable.
Tim Ries and his Rolling Stones Project provided concert goers with an oppurtunity to hear Rolling Stones’ songs in a new way, performed to perfection by the musicians that support them every night. Add a Blackhawks win to that and you have a truly magical night in Chicago.