Lizz Wright – Vocals
Nicholas Rolfe – Piano/Fender Rhodes
Carlos Henderson – Bass
Mark Collenberg – Drums
The lyrics are so essential to the song. They convey emotion and tells us a story from the singer’s perspective. Extraordinarily gifted vocalist/songwriter Lizz Wright brings the lyrics to life. She brings them from her heart and conveys them through her rich contralto voice and her graceful movements. Just watching her perform the past two nights at Yoshi’s has been a magical and spiritual experience.
I have had the pleasure of seeing Lizz twice in concert before these two special evenings. She moved and swayed me at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2002 and the Cerritos Center in 2003. It is wonderful to watch her grow in her musical journey. She is more comfortable and engaging with her audience. She is freer in her music yet there is still a wonderful innocence about her. Her phrasing is even sharper and her endings are smoother. She can take you to far away places and leave you wanting more. You can hear the gentle winds and the ocean breezes and see the beautiful fields of flowers and peaceful sunsets in her song.
She opened her evening with an up-tempo arrangement of “Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly,” then floated over to the melodic coolness and chants of “Afro Blue.” Next, she set our souls on fire with “Walk With Me, Lord” which featured Nicholas Rolfe on Fender Rhodes. “Blue Rose” was fragrant as she took us deeper into her soul. Her interpretation of the classic ballad “Nature Boy” has always been a favorite of mine. This evening it got funkier as Carlos Henderson set the tone with soulful groove on the bass, then Lizz took us from a simmer to a sizzle. Nicholas brought on the funk on the Fender Rhodes (even interspersing a little bit of The Stylistics “People Make the World Go Round” in his solo) and Mark Collenberg threw in a soulful beat on the drums. Lizz came back in and brought it all back down to a simmer as she told us “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.” She flowed gracefully through “Eternity”, soared effortlessly on her gospel/soulful interpretation of “The Eagle and Me”, and closed out the evening with “Silence.” The audience loved her and let her know with loud applause and standing ovations. She came back out and gave us a flavorful rendition of “Salt” and sent us home seasoned with her music and beauty.
Lizz has a new band that has been with her since November 2003. I hope they will be recording with her when she goes back into the studio this year for they compliment each other so well.
By the way, today she celebrates her 24th birthday! Happy Birthday Lizz! If you have not done so already, don’t forget to pickup some Salt.