Entertainment

Soul-searching sounds at Jazz

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 27, 2013    

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MICHAEL Bolton, the American rocker with a heart of soul, was in sparkling form on Friday's night two of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in Trelawny.

With a massive audience spread out over the expansive greens of the Multi-Purpose Stadium, 59-year-old Bolton was in fine form as he took patrons on a musical journey of his hits and all-time favourites, each earning roars of approval.

With his smoky vocals reaching every corner of the venue, Bolton delighted with You Don't Know What It's Like, Dock of The Bay, Said I Loved You But I Lied, and You Don't Know Me.

He even went classical, delivering Puccini's famous aria Nessun Dorma, and it too earned applause.

To spice up his set, Bolton included performances by American saxophonist Michael Linton who also did well.

It was near midnight when Bolton called it quits, wrapping up his set with the Percy Sledge original When a Man Loves a Woman and his take on Bill Withers' Lean on Me.

Not even an attempt by hosts Kerie-Ann 'Kiki' Lewis and Heather Cummings could muscle out an encore as the stage hands had begun preparing for the next act.

Bolton too declared that he was awaiting the performance by the Queen of hip hop soul Mary J Blige.

His endorsement seemed to energise Blige who gave an emotion-filled performance.

Dressed in a crisp white jacket and matching shorts she blasted out of the gate with Chaka Khan's Ain't Nobody and would bring the curtains down just over an hour later with Can't Be Without You.

In-between, she did a string of hits including Get It Crunk, Real Love — her breakout hit from the early 1990s — Love No Limit, and My Everything, all flowing in a seamless 'Mary medley'.

A quick wardrobe change into a fire-red jumpsuit saw an emotionally charged Blige. It was time for Not Gon' Cry — from the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack — I'm Going Down, No More Drama, and her second Chaka Khan track, Sweet Thing.

If Blige and Bolton earned the lion's share of the applause, the get up and dance award went to Bajan saxman Arturo Tappin.

He decreed that chairs were the enemy and therefore patrons should get up and dance. And that they did.

His set included a fantastic fusion of genres. Just as his performance in Kingston in December, Tappin brought something for everyone. His take on NeYo's Miss Independent, Maroon 5's Moves Like Jagger, Sizzla's Just One of Those Days, and Junior Gong's Affairs of the Heart, truly got the audience going.

His dancehall set, built around Only Man She Want (Popcaan) and Vegas's Bruck it Dung, appealed to the young and young at heart. His ode to Earth, Wind and Fire — Boogie Wonderland and September — hit the spot for older fans.

A string of popular tracks would round out his set, but not before a great dance party was had.

The Jamaican contingent on stage was well represented by Etana. She was able to hold the attention of her audience by dropping all her hits. Wrong Address, Roots, Warrior Love, Free, and Jah Blessings were among the tracks which comprised her set.

Roots reggae band Raging Fyah, Taddy P and violinist Mijanne Webster all did well in the early stages.

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