Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Live

Jazz Voice (EFG London Jazz Festival Opening Gala): Royal Festival Hall 10/11/17

Seal 1
Seal 1 Seal 2 Seal3 Vanessa  Haines Mica Paris Angelique Kidjo Miles Mosley Ms Carroll Tony Morelle

The EFG London Jazz Festival kicked off with tremendous panache/style as it celebrated it's tenth anniversary with real vim and vigour...this was especially pleasing after the noticeable fluctuation in performance energy I witnesses at last year's event.

Guy Barker's 42 piece orchestra were totally bang on and in the groove - which is just as well - as the plethora of great singers rose to the occasion and gave it their all.

Vanessa Haynes bedecked in white dress and white gardenia tucked behind her ear (Billie Holliday style) was first-up with the bluesy Sinatra classic, "I'm Gonna Live Till I die". Fellow incognito compadre Tony Momrelle took it up another level performing the Donny Hathaway evergreen ballad, "A Song For You". This is where the orchestra excelled themselves with dramatic cascading strings and sympathetic horns. I doubt if Donny himself had the luxury of ever performing this Leon Russell classic live with such backing. Momrelle nailed it!

Good to see Mica Paris too, still on her huskies sounding Ella Fitzgerald tip and looking very sassy in her black evening gown and long straight hair. She was there to do her very best in the battle of the divas as she delivered a blustery version of "Imagine My Frustration".

Angelique Kidjo's afrobeatish version of Talking Heads eponymous track "Cross Eyed And Painless" was an outstanding highlight too. The tush-shaking songstress has recently been riding high with her afro covers of those art house, post punk players finest, "Remain In Light". Her version of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" was real a winner too.

Liane Carroll (now an alluring redhead!) treated us to a rollicking version of "Happy Talk" and stood out as clear audience's favourite; she could do no wrong and was evidently having the time of her life.

It was good to see the west coast represented as well by one of the get down's alumni, Miles Mosley, who brought some unbridled funk to the evening with a lushly reharmonised version of "Ain't No Sunshine". His wah-wah double bass cut through the swathes of coruscating string and horns as the jazz warrior replete with black beret and heaps of attitude, tore through the tune like a man possessed - that is how you shake things up!

However, tonight's star of the show, Seal sauntered on like a Hollywood film celebrity and slipped into jazz crooner mode - and basically stole the show with his Sinatra take on "Luck Be A Lady Tonight". Neatly followed by a simply stunning version of Batman soundtrack enhancing, "A Kiss From A Rose".

Sadly, Seal decided not to hang around for the encore of Aretha's "Respect". But suffice to say, Jazz Voice had definitely raised the bar whilst proving a fitting way too kick off this year's exciting roster...

If you would like to find out our choices of where to go / what's hot at this year's LJF, pick up a copy of the last issue of Blues & Soul in shops now or click below to buy for the B&S shop.

WEBSITE efglondonjazzfestival

TWITTER LondonJazzFest

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PHOTOS: EMILE HOLBA
Words Emrys Baird

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