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Concert Reviews:
R&B singer Ledisi makes believers out of Detroit jazz fest crowd

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, September 5, 2010

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DETROIT -- "I know this is a jazz festival, cut come on now!" Ledisi proclaimed as she and her band grooved into "Think of You," the second of the New Orleans R&B singer's Sunday (Sept. 5) set at the 31st Annual Detroit International Jazz Festival.

Ledisi (ne Anibade Young) was well aware that her gospel-tinged brand of soul was on an extreme tip of what works for jazz fans, but she wasn't about to let that get in the way of a good time during her 75 minutes on the Chase Main Stage. "I'm not scared of none of y'all," Ledisi said early on, making note of the four Grammy Award nominations her five albums have received as proof that she's doing something right. She also chided the crowd continuously until most were on their feet after a sedate reaction at the beginning of the show.

Fortunately, Ledisi's songs were made for dancing, right from the opening triplet of "Get to Know You," "Think of You" and "Higher Than This." She even identified "Think of You" as a song about God, although many consider it a "booty" song; "It's alright," she noted, "God made booty, too."

Ledisi and her seven-piece band kept the tempo up and the energy high through fare like "Best Friend," "Joy" and "Everything Changes," while "Turn Me Loose" worked its way into an epic jam marked by vocal scats and soul shouts -- as well as a hot guitar solo by Steve Walker. "Get Outta My Kitchen," meanwhile, offered another long vamp and band member introductions.

"Goin' Thru Changes" and "In the Morning" showed that Ledisi could be just as commanding on quieter material, while "Alright" closed the show with some more scatting and Ledisi's three-point plan for a good life. "I don't want to keep you too long," she said as the set rolled to a close, but she could rest assured that even the most traditionally minded jazz fans would have been happy to hear her sing even longer.

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