Tim Ries brought his unique Rolling Stones Project to the the intimate Presidential Ballroom for the 2007 Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, March 21, 2007. The Rolling Stones Project was one of the major highlights on the bill of the 17th Annual Festival sponsored by the Berks Arts Council.
Project musicians joining Ries on stage at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel were Michael Davis on Trombone, Ben Monder on guitar, Clarence Penn on drums, Ben Street on bass, and vocalist Bernard Fowler. Davis, Fowler and Ries all participate as touring musicians in the Rolling Stone live entourage.
The Project opened with a different take on the 1968 classic "Street Fighting Man". The exciting arrangements on songs from the Jagger & Richards catalogue that Ries created bring out a completely new experience on material already aged by four decades.
The subtle electric guitar intro for "Waiting On A Friend" was later lifted by the prominent Saxophone playing by Ries. The mellow feeling gave way to an enhanced sound and instrument soloing. Ries greeted the Reading audience and introduced the musicians.
Bernard Fowler made his stage appearance to sing on "Honky Tonk Woman". Street's bass playing laid the foundation for Fowler's vocals with a totally new groove. The dual horns of Davis and Ries bolstered the Project jam.
Ries introduced a new original composition, "A Funky Number". The cool instrumental injected the Project performance with an impressive musical groove. Ries commented that a second jazz volume of Stones covers was forthcoming. "Satisfaction" underwent a jazz transformation sans vocals, which segued into a climactic ensemble coda.
As an encore, "Ruby Tuesday" was stunning in its simplicity. Ries on Alto Sax and Monder on electric guitar were the basic accompaniment for Fowler's wonderful vocal. The spare arrangement empowered Fowler to command the attention of the audience.
Tim Ries issued The Rolling Stones Project in 2005, with a single original track "Belleli" composed by Ries that is a standout instrumental featuring Charlie Watts on drums. Ries has recorded another collection of Stones material for a second album to be released this Fall.
Reading setlist: Street Fighting Man * Waiting On A Friend * Honky Tonk Woman * Wild Horses * Paint It Black * A Funky Number * (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction * Encore: Ruby Tuesday
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Tim Ries turns up in Reading with a little help from his friends
by Timothy Tilghman