Darius, Roberson put on soul striking show at Lyman Center

Haljit BasuljevicContributor

The John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts was packed Saturday night for another entry in the venues jazz series.

Darius soulfully kicked off a solo that received a wave of thunderous applause. He was accompanied by the saxophonist was Grammy award-nominee and R&B singer Eric Roberson whose “cool cat” persona electrified the crowd.

The 1,500 person capacity theater was nearly full, the audience awaited with eagerness while the dimly lit stage was occupied by band members checking and tuning their instruments. The moment was enlivening as the audience was ready to vibe with the Motown-inspired tunes. Some even before the show were beginning to catch hot feet. So, when Eric Darius came out, he came out blazing.

With a contagious energy, Darius weaved through the aisles as if the music told him go wherever it wanted. Often, he would stop by the edge of a row, and would either improvise for the lucky fan or shake hands with the rest of those seated. His playing was jubilant, dynamic, and cool.

One of the highlights of the night was when Darius performed his hit single “Going All Out”. He said that one of the best moments in his life is when “Going All Out” peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz chart back in 2008.

After a few songs, he spread much love to the crowd before introducing everybody to Eric Roberson.

With the demeanor of Cee-Lo Green and a crisp voice to match, Roberson performed “Picture Perfect,” a dedicating love song whose lyrics evokes comparisons to the Song of Solomon from the Bible. The two artists finally turned into a duo, feeding off each other’s performance, and the crowd never stopped swaying in their seats as the songs moved from slow, soft ballads to high- tempo acrobatics.

In between songs when the stage was just his, Roberson had the crowd in hysterics when he talked about marriage and his life. There was never a dull reaction from the crowd when he tried to relate to them.

Much like their predecessors, the artists’ message emphasize the spiritual interconnectedness of music, the rise above material wealth, showcased by songs like “Million Dollars,” and living the Black experience.

Backup singer D Maurice, also called “DMo!” spoke about spreading the message in a musical form that is not as widely heard as it once was.

“We’re not trying to do anything super- innovative,” he said. “It’s really all about the love.”

More than just a pit-stop on his tour for his new album, “Breakin Thru,” Darius acknowledged Southern’s Lyman Center as one of his favorite venues to play. And the crowd reciprocated with a roar.

Throughout the encore, many audience members felt free to finally detach themselves from their seats and start dancing. Several people had said that the shows Darius had put on never disappointed. Lawrence Tomascak, Lyman’s director of programming, marketing, and event management said that the reception for the jazz series throughout the semester was nothing short of excellent.

“I’ve gone every time here to see Eric [Darius] perform. He’s dope. He’s got energy,“ said Courie Stevenson, who frequently attends the jazz shows at Lyman.

With an undefined schedule going into the spring as far as Lyman Center is concerned, Eric Darius’ and Eric Roberson’s’ return should almost count as a definite, although the question of when remains so far unanswerable.

Photo Credit: Jeff Lamson

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