When jazz met soul in the early '70s, the resulting music was fresh, energetic, alive. By mid-decade, the style had become worn, cliched, comatose. Now, in 1980, jazz-soul-funk-rock (whatever you call it) is dead as the proverbial doornail.
All of which made Seawind's concert at the Bayou last night something of an exercise in futility. The six-piece group bumped and jerked its way through a series of hapless numbers that drew heavily from early Sly Stone, middle Return to Forever and late (and not-so-lamented) disco. What the show lacked in spunk and imagination, it more than made up for in vapidity.
This musical style has always been somewhat demanding in a technical sense, and the musicians of Seawind proved to be quite proficient -- bass figures were executed at a swift pace and ensemble sections were tight and crisp. But the group was never able to transform its abilities into forceful or moving musical statements. The songs came and went in a dizzyingly dull succession, accompanied by amateurish stage shenanigans that rivaled those of the nearest lounge act.
Truly soulful performers could still make this music sound convincing despite its age. But in the case of Seawind, it is merely a matter of too little, too late.