The Jazzcat

Lizz Wright at the California Plaza Grand Performances

by on Aug.08, 2004, under News



Lizz Wright is back once again to the place where she first

performed in Los Angeles,

the California Plaza Grand Performances. And, once again, grand she was! The

crowd screams out as they recognize the introduction to her tune. Elegant with

style and fashion, Lizz makes her way to the front of the stage and is received

with much love.


The stage is a glow and shines with rich and vibrant colors

emanating the omnipresent energy of our jazz queen for the night. Full of

soulful energy and expression singing songs like Afro Blue, Nature Boy, tunes

by Milton Nacimento and of course her own Salt from the album of the same

name.  Lizz has such a clean, clear and

effortless voice. I first met her in Monterey a

few years ago just after she performed here in Los Angeles. I was the master of ceremonies

at the Monterey Jazz Festival and on my stage that evening was Paula West,

Roberta Gamboarini and Lizz Wright. Lizz must be the most easy going and laid

back singer I know. No drama, just peaceful love and kindness. Everyone had a

great performance that night but, Lizz brought something special. She is so

grounded and her spirit is so calming that you just sit back, lock into the

energy and breathe in as you body feels the pulse of her voice.


A good friend of mine from New York City, Deanna Witkowski,

was playing piano in the band along with Carlos Henderson on Bass and Mark

Colenburg on Drums. I met Deanna a few years back at the International

Association of Jazz Educators in NYC a few years back. One evening after a day

at the convention, I went with George Duke, Ndugu Chancelor, Chris Jonz from

Warner Brothers and Dianne Reeves to go check out Christian McBride over at the

Iridium. Afterwards, a few of us heard about a Latin Jazz Jam session happening

uptown so, we hopped in a cab in search of the music. When we arrived, we

walked up a few flights of stairs to a loft that was on fire with Latin Jazz

music. On stage, playing her ass off, was Deanna and her Latin Jazz Band. Lizz

certainly recognizes talent, and the power of the cohesive sound of her band is

evident as she strolls right over the melody like she’s walking on water.


Her players are young and you can hear the culture of hip

hop and funk in their playing. As you look around everyone is bobbin’ their

heads and tapping their feet to the intoxicating groove. Lizz is so mesmerizing

that you forget that you are among thousands and think that you are all alone

experiencing a private concert just for you. Listening to Lizz is like a mental

dream sequence. Her whole body is a vortex of sound which leaves you inhaling

the essence of her dynamic voice so it must be true, “Must be the Salt in the Stew!”



LeRoy Downs

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