Sunday, August 2, 2015
Concert Review: Shades of Jade at Coda
Many respectable members of Kansas City’s jazz community would insist that the music I heard at Coda on Saturday wasn’t jazz. Maybe they’re right. Yet I’d rather hear Shades of Jade’s version of soul than a musty recreation of the music of yesteryear.
I’m excited by the current output of José James, Bilal and Esperanza Spalding’s Emily’s D+Evolution project. Most mainstream jazz that reverently hews to tradition seems less than inspiring in 2015.
That’s partly why Shades of Jade’s melodic original compositions and covers of material by the likes of Musiq Soulchild struck me as meaningful on Saturday in spite of the absence of an audience. I had the band almost completely to myself. The sextet presumably played to a packed house at Phoenix Fest later that night.
Shades of Jade wasn’t perfect. When I told bandleader Josh Williams at the break that he and keyboardist Desmond Mason seemed to be pushing toward jazz while the other four members of the group were pulling toward R&B, he agreed that the new lineup hadn’t completely coalesced.
The two vocalists seemed to have Lauryn Hill in mind as they sang while Williams and Mason may have been going for the sound of D’Angelo’s band. Jazz chops occasionally clashed with a more regimented sensibility.
I didn’t mind. I currently prefer a flawed version of jazz-informed R&B to a perfect replication of 1955-era swing.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)