July 28, 2010

V4YS Concert Review - Prince - Nice at Nikaia & After Show In Cannes - 25/07/10

My musical week in south of France had already been amazing but I did not forecast it would end with a phenomenal experience....named Prince!
Having learned (too late) from a friend (who was there) about the phenomenal 4h-long surprise concert that the star gave in the middle of the night on July 23d in Paris in my favourite concert venue, the New Morning, I realized there were some tickets left for his last european show in Nice on sunday the 25th.
Despite my strong reluctance to go to big venues or stadiums-like concerts I made an exception hoping that this immense artist would still be on the same fantastic mood and secretly hoping of an intimate after-show.

The official show in the Nikaia stadium was a great surprise as Prince and his band were absolutely stunning on stage for a 2-h long set where each musician and chorist offered us a piece of his outstanding talent. They constantly had the audience participate which was all the more successful as they focused mainly on classic songs. More importantly they seemed to have much much fun playing together for this last european tour date and this added to the overall excitement and the feeling I had to attend a really special show.
"Purple Rain", "1999", "Little Red Corvette", "Kiss", "Musicology" etc..(full listing here) were all part of it but my favorite live track was "shhhh", a pure moment of smooth&groovy R&B.

Prince in Cannes
As much as I enjoyed this big show I started to get really really excited when I learned about the after show planned in the Palais-Club in the neighbouring city of Cannes.
I arrived around 1am in this really posh place where young jet-setters seemed to have a good time listening to low-quality house music. When people coming from the Nice show to see Prince started to fill the club we could feel the difference between the usual audience of the place and the Prince fans.
Strange dual-atmosphere indeed, even stranger when one of the jet-setter from the vip place bought several dozens of Champagne bottles to distribute them to the "have-nots" only here for the show and sweating neck-to-neck in front of the scene. I was at the other side of the room and could not get some but who cares as it was only groove&funk I was hoping for!

Technical issues delayed the start of the show, and it's only around 4am that Prince and his band came on the tiny stage set-up in front of the tiny dancefloor.
Standing 4 or 5 meters from the man I had my first shot of "groovyness" before the show even started : while the musicians were tuning their instruments in a scene turned dark, the dj finally decided to play some real music to welcome them, and when Marvin's "Let Get It On" was on, all of a sudden I realized that there was an additional guitar line on top of this eternal song that I know too well.
I tried to distinguish in the dark what Prince was doing and I realized that while turning his back on the audience to seemingly tune his guitar, he was in fact having fun improvising a splendid riff on top of the song. Two or three minutes of pure joy.
(I guarantee the jet-setters part of the audience did not notice anything, they may have asked a "Marvin who?" if asked about the song ;)

The crew played a bit more than one hour (and had planned at least two without the damned technical issues) once again in a really joyful mood, you'll find the listing below but my highlights definitely are the explosive version of "The Jam", where each musician got introduced in the funkiest possible way, a slow motion version of his usual cover from Sly Stone's "Thank You" and the fantastic speeded-up cover from James Brown "Sex Machine" (this easy one was even identified by the young jetsetters part of the audience I believe;). Amazing drum tempo and wicked guitar and organ gimmick on this final gem.

What an unforgettable night! Thank You Prince!

Don't forget...I just need your extra-time and your....kiss!

Below the tracklisting from this after-show (thanks to the Schkopi community for the help) :
The Jam
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
We Want To Be Free
Baby Love
When Will We Be Paid
Girls & Boys
Ol' Skool Company
Sex Machine

And here is the closing medley starting with "Girls and Boy" and ending with "Sex Machine" which starts around 8mn :

July 27, 2010

V4YS Concert Review - Jazz A Juan Festival - Brooklyn Funk Essentials & Maceo Parker - 23/07/10

After these great two days in the Nice Jazz Festival, I wanted to visit the other legendary jazz festival located on the french riviera, in the city of Antibes Juan-Les-Pins.
A really funky evening was scheduled on Friday the 23d with Brooklyn Funk Essentials and Maceo Parker in town to participate in the 50th edition of "Jazz A Juan".
The concert being sold out I was really lucky to get an unexpoected invitation from a fan owning a spare ticket (thanks Milan for this!).
"Jazz à Juan" is located in a pine garden with the scene turning its back on the medierranean sea.
In this splendid location all visitors are seated but I assure you  that these rules, respected for jazz gigs, did not resist for long to the funky vibes delivered by both bands!

Brooklyn Funk Essentials :
Hanifah Walidah
Here is a band I had not heard about for a long time. With the release of "Watcha Playin" in 2009 the funky new-yorker collective ended a long period of silence and resumed its good habits of merging funky vibes with ragga/dub and oriental influences.
Still if I've always enjoyed their recordings, I've also always felt that the quality of their productions could be a bit better (for instance if they used less beatboxes and sound effects). In a word this is typically the type of band you would underestimate a tad by only knowing their albums and to me their talent and huge potential expresses itself fully on stage. This night in Juan confirmed this view with an enthusiastic performance.
It was not a surprise to see them share an evening with Maceo as the sax legend made several guest appearances on some of their older prods (like the well-known fantastic track "Blow Your Brains Out").
Focusing on tracks from this latest release they had the not-so-easy task to start the evening quite early when the sun was still up and to face a seated audience not really familiar with their sound.
Desmond Foster
After half an hour of energetic vibes they truly turned the place upside down and the most motivated listeners could finally get up and move next to the stage to dance (do I need to say I was part of them?).
The highlight of their show was clearly their trio of singers, who is full of energy and really complimentary : the stunning Hanifah Walidah taking care of the groove/funk tunes, Papa Dee throwing his cool rap/ragga flow anytime and Everton Sylvester bringing his poetic & humoristic reggae touch to the exsemble. The three of them are supported by the band's great musicians but they are the one really taking the live thing to a higher ground.
My favorite tracks of the show? without a doubt was "Dance-free night", with a much groovier version than on the album, my definition of groove in fact, with an infectious mid-tempo rythm supported by Hanifah's voice and remarkable stage presence. Also the hilarious accapella "spoken-word" version of  "Need" from Everton Sylvester who took the mike to fill a timeout due to the bassist amp having techncal problems. Loved it!

Maceo Parker :
Maceo Parker
How many times have I seen Maceo live?
maybe a dozen or more, he clearly is one of the artists I've seen the most in fact but not for the last 4 or five years as I had been a bit disappointed with the last times where he had started to move a bit away from his amazing pure-funk favorite recipe.
Well, this "Jazz à Juan"'s concert reassured me, the 67-year-old saxophonist was only here to funk us and it was one of the best Maceo's show I had ever attended.
As with Brooklyn Funk Essentials it took 20 to 30 minutes to get rid of the seated atmosphere and after amazing versions of "This Funk Is Off The Hook" and "Make It Funky" the audience was on fire with the empty space in front of the stage suddenly crowded with dancers from all ages (5 to 70-years-old, truly).
Martha High
In such a happy mood Maceo and his amazing musicians (like the brilliant Dennis Rollins on trombon or the funky diva Martha High on chorus) went on to deliver a 2-h long uplifting funk recital.
Most classics were interpreted, with a special moment when Martha  took to the frontstage to make a funky cover of Lyn Collins's "Think About It". What a thrill!

Anyway after such an evening I was even not feeling the strong chilly mistral wind blowing and all I wanted to say was "Give Me Some More"!

Below a video extract from Martha High and Maceo's crew version of "Think About It" :

July 25, 2010

V4YS Concert Review - Nice Jazz Festival - Stanley Clarke Band & Hiromi / Bojan Z Tetraband / Eric Legnini Trio / José James & Jef Neve - 21&22/07/2010

Imagine an antique roman site surrounded by a beautiful garden full of olive trees on top of a hill overlooking one of the most beautiful city on the French Riviera. You picture it? Not yet?  add the groovy sound of cicadas and you should make it :

So here you are, on the posh district of Cimiez in Nice where the Nice Jazz Festival has been settling each month of july for more than 50 years. The place offers 3 different scenes with a programmation usually focusing on jazz but with a backdoor opened to many more musical styles like groove, funk or electro.
This 2010 edition is a bit special as it is the last time the festival takes place in this exceptional location before moving next year closer to the city center. I could not miss this last Cimiez version all the more as some of my favorite jazz artists were present on the fantastic line-up. So here a few impressions of the two great days I spent there this week!

The Stanley Clarke Band & Hiromi :
Stanley Clarke & Ronald Bruner Jr.
Legendary fusion jazz bassist Stanley Clarke was my first "choice" of the evening. It was the first time I was seeing him live. I was absolutely stunned first by his outstanding bass/double bass play but even more by the amazing performance of Japanese pianist Hiromi who participated in Stanley latest album.
During this 1-hour long fusion set she alternated between smooth and more agressive ways of playing, and also impressed the crowd with a great stage presence (often playing standing in front of her piano when the groove was too unresistible). I really have to dig her own albums and I'm looking forward seeing her when she'll be visiting Paris. A name to watch for sure!
A special mention also to Californian drummer Ronald Bruner Jr. for his brilliant act full of enthusiasm and energy!
Below a short video showing some Hiromi's action!

Bojan Z Tetraband :
Bojan Z
Second stop of this night was franco-serbian pianist Bojan Z who is one of my favorite contemporary jazz artist.
Josh Roseman
Together with Sebastian Rochford on drums, Ruth Goller on bass and Josh Roseman on trombon, he offered a jazz set mainly composed of tracks from their 2009 album titled "Humus".

Contrary to the Stanley Clarke set where the interaction between each musician was strong and the "band" spirit evident, the atmosphere of this concert was totally different as each musician was more introverted and focused on his ow play. Coupled wih a more demanding free-jazz-like sound, it required a bit more attention to get into it.
Ruth Goller

But I did!
Sebastian Rochford
Very much in fact as the outstanding rythmic frame set up by Ruth Goller and Sebastian Rochford (I loved his funny Christ-like way of looking deeply up in the sky while playing), the amazing spiritual trombon sound of Josh Roseman and Bojan Z warm rhodes or piano lines are the kind of treats I cannot resist for long!

Eric Legnini Trio :
Eric Legnini, Thomas Bramerie & Frank Agulhon
Last but not least I ended this jazz evening with Eric Legnini Trio.

Eric's recent album called "Trippin" is a little gem where the groovy style of this outstanding pianist is at its best. Whether he is playing Piano or Rhodes, (like he did during this set) he delivers the kind of jazz that I find it hard to listen to seated!
For this Nice show he was joined by Frank Agulhon on drums and Thomas Bramerie on double bass.
The trio mainly focused on tracks from the "Trippin" album. The perfect rythmic support from Frank Agulhon and Thomas Bramerie opened the way for Eric's talent and ispiration. I particularly enjoyed their live versions of "Casa Bamako" and "Trippin". Being a Rhodes keyboard addict I took an immense pleasure to listen to his laid-back grooves!
Below you can get your heatlhy dose of Rhodes vibes with this small video of "Trippin" :

José James & Jef Neve - Coltrane Project
José James
Us singer José James is probably the most frequently mentionned artist on this blog as I firmly believe he is one of the most outstanding talent of the current jazz/soul scene.
Besides two amazing nu-jazz/beats albums (The Dreamer in 2008 and Blackmagic (our review here) in 2010) he teamed up in late 2009 with Belgian Jazz pianist Jef Neve to revisit Alice & John Coltrane legendary music.
José wrote or covered some lyrics on several Coltrane's tracks like Lush Life, Central Park West, A Love Supreme and the duo, joined by Michael Campagna (sax/clarinette), Neville Malcom (double bass) & Richard Spaven (drums), gave three exceptional live shows in late 2009 (Brussels, Paris & London) that were more than 2-hour long.

Jef Neve
The Parisian concert at the New Morning was one of the best live act I ever attended (all musical styles included). I loved it so much that I included this project in the blog's "2009 favorites records" list even though no recordings came out of it. They currently offer shorter versions of it in several jazz festivals and I was particularly happy to catch them for a second time.
Richard Spaven
The 1-hour long set in Nice on July 22nd was equally brilliant albeit really too short!
Next to these 4 talented musicians sensitive interpretation of Coltrane's music, José deep and powerful voice adds a spiritual touch respectful of Alice & John Coltrane's legacy. Once again it was a moment of reflexion and grace.
Jef Neve, José James, Michael Campagna, Neville Malcom &  Richard Spaven
For those interested in this project the full 2-h long Brussels show from october 2009 is available in video streaming here (courtesy of a belgian network).
Also the duo recorded recently a splendid record on the Verve label, called "For All We Know" (our review here) which is a selection of classic jazz songs they brilliantly adapt to their tastes.

Below a video of "Lush Life" in Nice :

July 18, 2010

V4YS Concert Review - Quantic And His Combo Barbaro Feat. Alice Russel - Live At Cabaret Sauvage, Paris, 170710

Will Holland's (aka Quantic) latest project called "Quantic And His Combo Barbaro" resulted in a phenomenal album last year tittled "Tradition In Translation", blending Colombian latin vibes with Soul&Funk (for more info about it, you can check our "2009 favorite records" selection).

After a first remarkable concert in October 2009 at the Bataclan in Paris, the combo was back in town to visit the "Cabaret Sauvage", current host of the great "Sin Fronteras" world-music festival.
A regular guest singer on several former Quantic productions, nu-funk singer Alice Russel was also part of the show to add to the excitement.

Nidia Gongora & Quantic
 Yesterday the combo was composed of 8 members (drums, congas, piano, contrebass, electric guitarist, percussions, alto sax, trumpet) among which Quantic on guitar, the legendary latin pianist Alfredo Linares or Heliocentrics's drummer and leading member Malcom Catto.

Alice Russel
On vocals the mesmerizing colombian singer Nidia Gongora shared the stage with Alice Russel who appeared as a guest on three songs.

The band offered an explosive performance that lasted almost 2 hours. They alternated between funky latin tracks from the album, classic colombian cumbia songs, a killer boogaloo track from Alfredo Linares old-school days and a few soul/funk tunes when Alice Russel was in charge (among which her classic groovy  song with Quantic Soul Orchestra called "Pushing On").

On top of their musical excellence I particularly appreciated the enthusiasm of each band member. These guys enjoy themselves, you can feel it, and I guarantee the joy easily spreads to the audience! Nidia Gongora fantastic stage presence best illustrates this.

A must-see band if they happen to play anywhere near you!

Below videos from yesterday's live version of  "Mas Pan" :

Un grand merci à Vincent pour ses superbes photos!

July 13, 2010

V4YS Ep Review - SBTRKT - 2020 Ep (Brainmath Records)

There is so much good stuff coming out of the Uk dubstep/breakbeat/deep house scene at the moment that I find it hard not to miss jewels on the road. For instance, I had not noticed this fantastic "2020" Ep from SBTRKT released 3 months ago on Brainmath Records.

Alongside Joy Orbison, Martyn, Scuba, Pangaea, Ramadanman and several others, SBTRKT has been spreading quality productions around these last few months, but this particular Ep is clearly my favorite.
"2020" blends soulful vibes, explosive broken beats and a wide range of creative sounds to reach some kind of electronic music perfection embarking you in a deep journey for sure!

Below a streaming of the first phenomenal track, also titled "2020" :

July 10, 2010

V4YS Album Review - Dwele - W.ants W.orld W.omen (E1 Entertainment Records)

The Nu-Soul scene is in full revival mode. Following Maxwell & Erykah Badu and before Bilal, Andreya Triana and possibly D'Angelo, here is Dwele's turn to release a new Lp. 
W.ants W.orld W.omen is the Detroit-born singer's 5th album.
Don't trust the rather poor cover artwork, this record almost matches Dwele best work so far, "Rize" and "Subject", released in 2000/3.

It is split in three parts : the "W.ants" part is rather Hip-hop oriented, the "W.orld" part enters the "socially-conscious" space with lyrics dealing with various political issues on a soulful musical background, finally the "W.omen" part comes back to the classic nu-soul relationships theme on a smoother R&B sound, that many rightfully nickname "baby-making" soul music.
If the album adresses a wide range of subjects and musical atmospheres with various collaborations such as Kanye West, Slum Village or Raheem Devaughn, the amazing deepness and maturity of Dwele's voice is the common factor to all tracks.
I have to acknowledge my preference for the second and third parts as their pure nu-soul sound clearly represent Dwele's ultimate signature. Tracks such as "How I Deal", "My People", "Love You Right" or "Give Me A Chance"... are little gems, blending groove and sensuality.

To me this record is not as powerful as Erykah Badu's recent's "New Amerykah Part Two" but it is nevertheless a remarkable production which makes it a highly recommended Lp for any nu-soul fan.

Below you'll find streaming of "How I Deal" featuring Slum Village and "Give Me A Chance" :