The Wave put on a smooth night out indeed on Saturday, February 23rd at the Nokia Theater. Boney James, Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown, Mindy Abair, Spencer Day and Vincent Ingala performed to perfection.
The Wave’s line-up showcased the great breadth of current talent and has inspired me to encourage you to go see the artists you love – now. They’re here and they want nothing more than to play for their fans. You’ll be so glad you did. I promise.
It’s always exciting to see young musicians and be touched by their talent. It reinforces the belief that the music we love is carrying on. Vincent Ingala and Spencer Day are two such artists.
Composer and sax man Ingala is barely 20 years old and has a promising career ahead of him. He is baby faced, largely talented and recognized for mastering the expressions in standard smooth jazz favorites. His second CD released, Can’t Stop Now is making a lasting impression on Billboard and many other charts.
Day is an enthusiastic performer who has an eloquent vocalizing style. His distinctive enunciation of lyrics and his dreamy singing are likely to carry you away on a cloud. He garnered a hit with “Till You Come Back to Me” on Billboard’s chart for well over 20 weeks. To the delight of this room he closed his set with that number. Day clearly loves to engage his audience and keep them smiling and he is skilled at doing just that.
Wild spark Mindy Abair graced the stage next in a silver sequin top and black spandex pants. Talented and highly energetic she knows how to hold an audience’s attention. Her sound is funky and along with a lot of bass from the band, her happiness is infectious.
Abair shared a story that just that morning she was eating breakfast in the Philippine’s, then she and the band flew to Hong Kong and then back to LA in time for sound check at the venue. “I feel like it’s never going to end.” she said with a huge smile and she was blowing her alto sax hard. Her energy is astounding.
She went into the classic “Summertime” to warm up the crowd following it with her song “Lucy” from the album It Just Happens That Way. The room happily sang along the melodic song with her. Abair shared that this song saved her life.
After Abair’s performance, The Wave’s Pat Prescott came out and announced the station was paying tribute to the 2013 honorees of Black History Month this evening and all of their names were on display on the big screen.
She then introduced one of the original smooth jazz stars, Kirk Whalum to the stage who received a very warm welcome. Wearing a leather fedora and color splashed blazer with leather black pants and a scarf, he was looking sharp. Blowing his horn up and down the scales and tossing a little straight ahead style into the mix, he let the audience get a little taste of his seasoning. Whalum’s method of entertaining is very smooth, he can get funky, bluesy or play the purest expression of jazz on his horn but does so with graceful eloquence.
A highlight of his performance was “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston which he played the saxophone solo on in the film. It was bitter sweet. Whitney may as well have been on stage singing it because Whalum played to every single nuance in her voice on that number perfectly and exactly. Bravo! He got a standing ovation.
Norman Brown was a joy in this concert playing what he so appropriately calls feel good music; and that feeling was definitely circulating the room.
He opened with the number “Keep it Moving”. Brown is amazingly clear and precise on his azure blue electric guitar. You can hear each individual note his fingers play even as his digits are moving with deftness and speed. You can tell Brown loves this, he is shining. Later in his set he played The Isley Brothers’ “For the Love of You”. Brown was actually singing his instrument right along with every note on his guitar. He and his guitar were one and the same; I was thoroughly impressed by his immense skill.
About this time Kirk Whalum came back out to join his comrade on Janet Jackson’s “That’s the Way Love Goes” These two cats got it down THEN they got funky- old school style. The audience ate it up.
The evening closed with showman Boney James who donned a nice dark suit, fedora and Vans tennis shoes. So at home on stage, he came out with a smooth start on his alto sax building to a little bit of sass, and spiritedness with his walk and expressions to the audience. He loves the back and forth with the crowd and will playfully tell them to respond if they’re a little laid back.
He spoke to us about his latest record, The Beat, and said he came out with it to make contact with his audience. James walked all over the stage and interacted with his band mates constantly. Going into Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”, James treated us to a groovy little dance on stage. Following his lead his band got real funky and glided right into Chaka Khan’s “Sweet Thing”. Then with sax in hand, blowing real cool Boney made his way out to dance with the audience and he spent some time with the crowd.
Getting everyone up dancing at the end of the night was a great close to an evening that had a smooth and happy groove all the way through. The Wave DJ Pat Prescott summed up the evening this way;
“Tonight’s concert had it all. We heard from talented emerging artists like Spencer Day and Vincent Ingala; artists whose careers were launched on The Wave like Mindi Abair and Norman Brown; and popular veteran performers like Kirk Whalum and Boney James. It was the perfect blend of all the musical elements that have created the station’s magic for the past 26 years”.
Article written by Melina Paris