Nnenna Freelon LIve at Catalina’s
Live at Catalina’s
by Paula Edelstein
Better than skiing at Aspen, better than Tiger winning the U.S. Open! Nnnenna Freelon wowed a packed house at Catalina’s Bar & Grill in Los Angeles, California on the opening night of her week-long stint at the much heralded West Coast jazz haven. Her stunning set, straight from her great new CD on Concord Jazz titled SOULCALL, mesmerized the well-heeled crowd that turned out to celebrate the Partners in Education and the Los Angeles Unified School District concert to benefit talented children seeking an alternative to violence and crime. Opening with an excellent rendition of the Harold Arlen standard “Paper Moon,” the sleek, stunning diva gave the crowd a “wake up call” reminiscent of the great Carmen McCrae.
With excellent phrasing and nuance that made you believe in her magic and her love of “peach cobbler and flannel sheets,” this exceptional mix summoned the influences that impacted her musical experiences and tonight she relayed those same profound expressions with maturity and grace. Her excellent interpretations of “Just In Time,” “Let It Be Me,” ” I Say A Little Prayer,” and “Skylark” were played with unbridled assurance by pianist Takano Miyamoto, bassist Wayne Batchelor, drummer Woody Williams, and percussionist Beverly Botsford. Freelon’s scat singing is marked with the inside source that flows from the depths of her soul and on “Better Than Anything,” she showed why she is the multi-Grammy nominated vocalist that she is. Closing with “One Child At A Time,” Nnenna Freelon delivered her ‘soulcall’ with the contemporary, cross-generational appeal that is sure to impact and awaken the musical senses of both new and devoted fans for many years to come. Don’t miss this one and take any seat that comes your way!