Early during his performance last night at Blues Alley, violinist Noel Pointer confessed he's encountered a problem recently trying to serve three masters: himself, his audience and God. While two of those parties are keeping their own council, it's clear that Pointer's popularity rating among the public hasn't slipped any.
The place was packed, numerous latecomers were turned away, and those who paid the hefty cover charge needed little encouragement to "get funky" when "Classy Lady" required audience participation.
Still, Pointer's blend of funk and fusion often seemed dated and unimaginative. Part of this was understandable since the violinist reached back several years to his first album for material. The real problem, however, was the overall uniformity and predictability of the instrumentals he performed. True, they were flashy and technically impressive. But seldom were they anything more.
Fortunately, Pointer doesn't confine himself to fusion. Backed by a young, competent quartet, he proved himself a fine vocalist as well as an amiable and articulate performer. Particularly enjoyable was his closing selection, which he dedicated to the memory of Anwar Sadat. The piece not only displayed his classical training to better advantage, but also revealed a welcome degree of warmth and restraint.
Noel Pointer performs through tomorrow at Blues Alley.