This past Sunday I attended my first live performance of Jeff Healey and the Jazz Wizards and I was a little surprised at how much I enjoyed it.Yet I feel I should start with something of a disclaimer.
I am a huge fan of Jeff Healey. There. That said, I would admittedly be at a loss to have anything negative to say about the man. I mean, really who could. Jeff Healey is the celebrated blues guitarist renown for his unique style of playing (guitar flat across his lap) and spectacular talent, in spite having been rendered blind by the age of one due to a rare from of cancer. You’d have to be an outright cad to say anything bad about the guy, even if he wasn’t also one of the nicest, most genuine persons on the planet. If you ever have the opportunity to catch one of his shows at his club, Jeff Healey’s Roadhouse in Toronto, you’ll see what I mean. Jeff Healey is just a really, really nice guy.
My appreciation for Jeff Healey however stems not from his jazz band, but from his blues guitar music of the late 80s early 90s with the Jeff Healey Band, when he was climbing the charts with hits like “Angel Eyes” and his version of the Beatles’ classic “While my guitar gently weeps.” (Beatles fans don’t kill me here, but come on… you’ve got to admit Healey’s version is better.)
Being a teenage girl in the infant days of Much Music and MTV, I also freely admit that my early infatuation with Healey had more than a little to do with his looks. Damn was he cute! The big bouffant hairdo was a bit much, but he was tall, blond, had a gorgeous smile and, ironically enough, the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen up to that point… a small aside here to Jeff, (sorry Jeff, but I subsequently grew up and married a tall blond Dutchman with even more spectacular blue eyes, so you are now 2nd on my list of most beautiful blue eyes ever, hope that’s ok? OK…back to business.)
Raging teenage hormones aside, it was his phenomenal skill with a guitar that really got my attention and has kept me a Healey fan for more years than I care to admit. I was, and still am, more of a rock and roll kind of girl though, so I wasn’t sure I’d take to this jazz band thing he suddenly decided to do. Don’t get me wrong, I like jazz well enough, but I’m more of a new age, easily accessible, Diana Krall, Holy Cole Trio sort of jazz enthusiast. I’ll give pretty much any kind of music a listen, but my knowledge of early standard jazz is all but non-existent.