It’s always a treat to hear in person a vibes player whose recordings I play on Good Vibes and this particular evening in October was no exception. Vibraphonist Joe Doubleday and his Showtime Band played The Jazz Corner in Hilton Head, his third sold-out performance there. From hot and swinging to cool and expressive, the quartet of pianist Gerand McDowell, bassist Karl Kohut and drummer Dag Markhus with Doubleday at the head, showed every sign of being the real deal. They wowed the super-attentive audience with tunes special to vibes pioneer Lionel Hampton, some of whom had seen Hamp in person back in the day. Others, unfamiliar with both Hampton and the instrument, heard Doubleday’s pithy explanation of the bars, resonators, and dampers that make up the vibraphone’s most important parts, something I never heard any player do on stage. A little education goes a long way to appreciation.
They opened with “Moonglow,” then went on to play over two sets, “On Green Dolphin Street,” “Red Top,” “Someday My Prince Will Come,” and “Honeysuckle Rose,” among others. Doubleday bowed out so his trio could play a sweet rendition of “Pennies from Heaven,” then returned for the Milt Jackson/Modern Jazz Quartet favorite, “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise,” the Gigi Gryce tune, “Minority,” and a rapid-fire rendition of “Night in Tunisia,” a pace that Doubleday seems to really relish. The photo was taken while they played, “Tunisia” during one of those high-speed rolls of the mallets. The closing tune was the Gershwin brothers’ “The Man I Love,” especially touching with Doubleday’s mom and dad from Oklahoma in the room.