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Wednesday, 25 February 2009

REVIEW: YolanDa Brown @ The Jazz Café (15th February)

With a venue renowned for its stellar acts and having heard good things about YolanDa Brown, my expectations were high. Judging from the queue already formed by door opening time (7pm prompt), it was clear I was not the only one who had been touched by her reputation.

Hosting the evening was up and coming comedian Eddie Kadi, whose bold and camp comedy style kept the eclectic crowd entertained. As he reeled off her achievements of sell-out shows, I could hear murmurs of “I was there”, amongst the audience. It was official, I was amongst fans.

As the lady herself took centre stage, wearing her trademark knee length frock and carrying her beautifully painted tenor sax; she appeared much smaller in person and I wondered how she would survive a two hour set in killer heels. I needn’t have worried, for YolanDa showed me how it was done.

“In the mood for love” was the theme for YolanDa Brown’s Valentine’s weekend concert and the first half of the act reflected this; kicking off with the title song. Next up was a slightly up-tempo rendition of Misty and Just Say, an original composition, moody and mellow enough to bang home the message of love. Throughout her set YolanDa invited the band to jam with her and to perform solo. At one point she introduced the musicians not just by name but by nationality, each playing a traditional sound from their native country: Brazil, Jamaica, London, Nigeria and Sierra Leone – I was being spoiled by a cornucopia of world music.

For the second half Ms. Brown re-joined us having swapped her modest bronze dress in favour of a brightly patterned, African-inspired number. The camaraderie between stage and audience continued, as she burst into an original, Festact Town, named after a town in Nigeria. As she bopped and jigged on stage, sax in hand, we couldn’t help but join in. Though highlights of the night included a performance of Story (another original composition) and a sax duet of Prince’s The Beautiful Ones, with vocalist Aaron, it was simply watching YolanDa do her thing that stood out most of all. Switching from an original to a popular song (Bob Marley’s Is This Love went down extremely well), from tenor sax to soprano and back; her passion and love for performing brought magic to the show.

© Rachelle Hull, 2009
Published at www.catchavibe.co.uk
Photo Credit: Richard Kaby www.flickr.com/photos/kabyric/sets


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