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" :

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