Class, sass and spark
Uncle Charlie Wilson brought the seduction.
Gladys Knight brought the class.
En Vogue brought the sass and spark.
Heads of State(One third of the former New Edition group Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant)brought the swag.
Lauren Hill , the headliner for day one of the two-day concert, well . . . she left people scratching their heads in amazement, with her costume(black, floor length skirt, topped with a red leather jacket and New York Yankees baseball cap)for the night getting the better part of the post-concert roundup discussion.
With the likes of the Isley Brothers, Lalah Hathaway, Al Jarreau and Musiq Soulchild(who replaced Ed DeBarge in the line-up), the Jazz in the Gardens music festival in South Florida is somewhat of a misnomer for this popular event dominated by R&B, soul and hip hop acts, but it sure is packing in the fans. This year, of the estimated 50,000 persons that flocked to the grounds of the Sun Life Stadium on just the first day of the two-day concert, a healthy sprinkling of a few hundred Bahamians were interspersed in the crowd, rocking out to the booty-shaking hits and chilling to the more seductive sounds. Quite a number of the Bahamians present were able to rock out at Jazz in the Gardens concert courtesy ofThe Nassau Guardianand Star 106.5 FM, Bahamasair, Staybridge Suites and Thrifty/Dollar Car Rental.
Uncle Charlie Wilson sang a 17-song set bringing together the old school and new school and was undoubtedly one of the fan faves as he was able to dip into his repertoire of songs from his Gap Band days with”Party Train,””Let’s Chill,””Whatcha Wanna Do”and”I Wanna Be Your Man,””Yearning For Your Love”to”You Dropped The Bomb on Me”to his current hits”There Goes My Baby”and”My Name is Charlie”satisfying a crowd that spanned several generations–from grammas to teenagers alike.
All hail the queen!Gladys Knight–one of the most loved and respected singers received a standing ovation for her set, as she sang popular hits like”Midnight Train To Georgia”which she recorded with pop/R&B group Gladys Knight&The Pips. And she gave credit to, and shared the stage with her brother Merald”Bubba”Knight.
The all female quartet(Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson and Terry Ellis)also known as the four funky divas of En Vogue, didn’t just bring the spark to the Sun Life Stadium grounds and the concert, they brought it. The first few songs were shaky due to sound issues in the stage monitors, but once technical difficulties were set aside, En Vogue put on a show. They ripped the harmonies, they moved, and looked good doing it too. And their up tempo tracks didn’t allow anyone to sit for very long.
They breathed new life into old classics like Creedance Clearwater Revival’s”Proud Mary(Rolling on a River),”Chaka Khan’s”Tell Me Something Good,”and Donna Summer’s”Bad Girls.”They also performed a little Curtis Mayfield, and reintroduced some of their own hits including”Free Your Mind,”and”My Lovin'(You’re Never Gonna Get It)”, and”Whatta Man”from their 1993 collaboration with Salt-N-Pepa.
And with one-third of the New Edition performing in the persons of Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant, there was a little of everything for everyone from the smooth, suave and sexy, to just a tad of the raunchy.
Crooning out classics such as”Cool It Now,”with Mr. B himself bringing that little raunchiness to their performance, the trio though proved that they still had the moves as they grooved across the stage in their matching shiny black suits and white shirts–sans bow tie. There wasn’t a still body in the place when they sang New Edition favorites”Mr. Telephone Man,””Cool It Now,”and”Tenderoni.”They each also crooned solo hits. Brown delighted with”My Prerogative”. Tresvant with”Sensitivity”and Gill got the ladies off their feet with”My, My, My”and”Rub You the Right Way.”During the course of their hour-long performance, the trio also sang Tresvant’s”Stone Cold Gentleman,”Brown’s”Every Little Step”and”Gill’s”There U Go.”
Ronald Isley and his brother Ernie Isley headlined day two of the concert, including a guitar solo from Ernie that had the crowd in awe.
Lauryn Hill’s night one headlining performance was heavily laced with Miseducation tracks and classic Fugees cuts:”Everything Is Everything,””Superstar,””How Many Mics,”Bob Marley’s”Is This Love,”and”Doo Wop,”was met with mixed reviews.
Tipping their hat to the jazz lovers, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, jazz giant, Al Jarreau, saxophonist/trumpet player, Johnny Holliday, saxophonist Dayve Stewart also blew a few tunes, along with Sy Smith, and Jahfe, at the event hosted by talk radio personality Michael Baisden.