Monday, February 8, 2016

Concert Review: Bukeka Shoals at Unity Temple on the Plaza

The last thing the members of Wednesday's audience of about 125 at Unity Temple on the Plaza expected to hear was hip-hop.  Yet Bukeka Shoals began her appearance at Spirituality and All That Jazz with a funky song that featured a rap segment.

The vocalist, flautist, songwriter, actor and motivational speaker also performed pop, gospel, R&B and contemporary jazz.  Assisted by keyboardist Angela Ward (and Ward’s 13-year-old son on drums for a selection or two), Shoals was full of surprises.

The senior citizens in the audience forgave Shoals for her foray into hip-hop during lovely readings of “My Funny Valentine” and “Do Nothing till You Hear From Me” and cheerfully clapped along to a lively version of “Respect.”  Saxophonist Jim Mair unleashed his inner King Curtis while bassist James Albright evoked Duck Dunn on the R&B standard.

A rendition of Shoals’ original composition ”Be Happy” was pleasing, but the evening’s most memorable selection was an emotional a cappella interpretation of a gospel song.

The concert began with a rendition of bandleader Tim Whitmer’s “Player Piano.”  The opening tune exemplified the primary appeal of the monthly series- toe-tapping, smile-inducing jazz accentuated by melodic solos.

The core group of Whitmer, Mair, Albright and drummer J├╝rgen Welge has entertained at the monthly Spirituality and All That Jazz concerts for more than 22 years.  Shoals rightfully commended the series' “amazing tradition” and suggested that “we ought to be proud that we have something that brings people together from all walks of life.”

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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