Legendary jazz vocalist Jimmy Borges doesn’t come out to do just any gig. It has to be special. It has to speak to him. It has to feature established and/or versatile, open-minded musicians who can swing on a dime from standards to the Great American Songbook, to some adult contemporary pop. You never know where Borges will go—and that’s half the fun of any of his live shows, and why they always sell out.
“Wherever this man goes, follow him. He’s one of the best singers I’ve ever heard.” –Tony Bennett, December 31, 1985
Gifted with charismatic stage presence, a quicksilver ability to switch-up arrangements on the fly–given the mood and the atmosphere, as well as a vast, working knowledge of every song in creation, Borges looks for special musicians armed and ready to push limits, go all out collaboratively, reach higher levels through a wide variety of musical interpretations, and connect meaningfully with the audience.
After all, the 2008 Na Hoku Hanohano “Lifetime Achievement” award-winner played with everybody there is, the who’s who in jazz (you name them, he’s performed with them, mentored them, partied with them), from Hawaii to San Francisco, Vancouver, New York, Vegas, Rio, and beyond.
He even received carte blanche from The Chairman of the Board himself to dive into a personal musical library of 2,000+ song arrangements—unheard of and only for Borges—with which to produce a special 1991 salute to Frank Sinatra with the Honolulu Symphony. That concert earned him a Honolulu Magazine recognition of putting on the “Best Concert of the Year,” and led to a sequel in 1993 with conductor Matt Catingub.
Borges – also a gifted actor of some renown (Hawaii Five-0, Magnum P.I., Rockford Files, Charlie’s Angels and The Jeffersons) – recently found that special band of musicians worth coming out for in L.A. guitarist and former local boy who made good, Doug MacDonald, Hawaii-based drummer Darryl Pellegrini and bassist Stephen Jones.
Guitar-Bass-Drums is a rhythm section favored by sideman and worldwide recording artist, MacDonald. No offense to pianists but this kind of rhythm section allows him to flow and vibe his blues-tinged jazz unfettered. “The guitarist has complete freedom with just the bass and drums. The rhythm section without piano has the open space to breathe uncluttered, refreshing air,” he has said of his 2010 album, “It’s A Blue World.”
Jimmy Borges, Doug MacDonald, Stephen Jones, and Darryl Pellegrini will stir things up with a most refreshing guitar- and vocally led rhythm section – no piano – March 24, 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m., at Sarento’s-Top of the Ilikai Hotel in Waikiki (1777 Ala Moana Blvd.), $10 cover. Reservations are strongly advised, (808) 955-5559.