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LALAH HATHAWAY: THE JAZZ CAFE, LONDON, JULY 9TH, 2014
I didn't know what to expect from Lalah Hathaway and after last night I know that's a beautiful place to be....the anticipation. Well, Lalah has me from the time of her impassioned plea for "no flash" and for people to be 'present' with her in the room - 'important to remember folks that if you're watching it on you IPad or IPhone then it's happened already'.....the moment is gone. Those moments are surely sweet and many. It's not a revelation as surely we all know the song is often much sweeter performed live.

It's a midweek evening, the mood set is one of calm, relaxed deep soul, the musicians blend and gel and the sweet spirit of Ms Hathaway does not have to be centre stage as she generously shares her light and allows each member of the band their time. The long intro into "Summertime" gives us the pleasure of a bass intro and introduces us in turn to each of her backing vocalists, Jason Morales and Vula Malinga, who each have their chance to interpret the lyrics of this standard in their own way. This is topped and tailed by a spellbinding reading from Ms Hathaway. This is when the first spell is cast as a classic song that I love is given a deep, mellow effortlessly-soul-drenched caress. To finish this with a whistled version between Lalah and her backing vocalist, Jason was inspired. Their ad-libs, rapport and whistled 'conversation' is a special moment and elicits a wolf whistle from a talented audience wannabe.

Throughout her soul session, Lalah is able to scat effortlessly, deeply and convey several shades without a word uttered. Her voice is an alto gift from heaven. I realise I am privileged to be at a gig where the commanding presence of a High Priestess is keeping us mesmerised with each word or scatted interlude. We are taken back to the eighties with a cover of Anita Baker's "Angel" and Earth Wind and Fire's "Would You Mind". Then the genuine sharing spirit of Lalah gives us the comedic talent of Vula and bearded guitarist Ben Jones (who together make up a great UK-based musical twosome called DivaGeek. I love to see new talent. I love to see new talent from naturally gifted performers and singers like Vula, who has a vocal range somewhere beyond Betty Wright, Mariah and Chante Moore and with the Geek offering a more low key presence, they performed the song Money" off their CD "He Said, She Said" and I can't help but think 'ooh la la la,' they are good.

Lalah;'s "I'm Coming Back" is delivered as a soothing, moody, mellow and she continues to emit breathy tones taking us up to a rousing delivery of Luther Vandross's "Forever, For Always, For Love". This is a special moment with the interplay with Vula on backing vocals (pleading for 'no flash' of the cameras) and audience members are unable to control their joy at the aural pleasure that Lalah produces with each note. This leads us onto an uptempo song, the Lalah-and-Snarky Puppy Grammy-award winning delivery of one of my Lalah Hathaway favourites, the Brenda Russell co-penned, "Something".

The encore of "Boston" with Lalah alone on the stage on keys is simply beautiful. With the band rejoining for "Rock With You" and other Michael Jackson snippets, the audience is in fine voice. This was truly a special deeply soulful and jazzy night at the Jazz Cafe. This is one of those evenings that will stick in the memory for years to come.


About the Writer
Terry Joe is a London-based has led bands as a vocalist, releasing cds and regularly performing. His favourite artists include Anita Baker, Jill Scott, Al Green, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Ledisi, Nathan Haines, Me'shell NdegeOcello and many more.
  
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