The Queen City Jazz Fest has slowly become a Father’s Day weekend tradition. For the third year in a row, Charles Whitfield and his team have put together a show that ranged from smooth jazz to R&B to serious funk. What was supposed to be a day, according to local weather reports, filled with rain, actually turned out to be a sunny day. Mike Phillips put it best when he said, “If I played the wrong notes, would I still get paid?”
The festival kicked of with Yuna. Fresh off her recent release Chapters, her trio got the crowd in the mood for an evening of great music. I have to admit when I first saw the line up for the festival, I had to check out Yuna’s music. After hearing cuts like “Best Love” and “Crush” that features Usher, I realized her music has been on my radio for a while. By the way, Chapters is a must-have for your music collection.
Jeff Lorber has to be one of the coolest people ever to sit behind a set of keyboards. Then you add Paul Jackson Jr. and Everette Harp and now you got some Serious Business that’s hotter than the 88 degree weather during their performance. This line up of Jazz Funk Soul is just as strong as the original with Chuck Loeb. They could have easily been the headliner, and the same could be said about Mike Phillips and Jeff Bradshaw.
It was great seeing the pair of Mike Phillips and Jeff Bradshaw together. The musical range of the pair was on full display. From classic jazz riffs to a tribute R&B greats like Stevie Wonder and the late Prince. Mike Phillips isn’t one to stick to the stage. He took his music into the crowd, dancing and playing his way up one aisle, through a row of seats, and down the opposite aisle – for one long note.
It was my fourth time shooting Culbertson, and it’s the fourth show I’ve seen because he keeps his energetic performances fresh, even as he rotates crowd favorites and standards with newer work. For anybody new to a live Culbertson performance, last night was a powerful introduction to an eclectic musician. For those familiar with Culbertson’s intensity, last night didn’t disappoint – if anything, it raised the bar of expectation. We should rename the stage the Brian Culbertson Stage, since he has owned it at this festival for three straight years.
What’s next for Queen City Jazz Fest? More musicians? An additional day? I’m excited to see.