The closing act of the festival were legendary group Shakatak, founded in 1980 and still going strong. Next to founding members Bill Sharpe on keys, Roger Odell on drums, George Anderson on bass and Jill Saward on vocals, percussion and flute, we got Jacqui Hicks on vocals, sax and flute, and Alan Wormaid on guitar. The band went through their greatest hits, like "Night Birds", "Streetwalkin'", "Day By Day" (which originally featured Al Jarreau), "Easier Said Than Done" and others. They stuck to the songs closely and didn't solo extensively, which was a bit sad given the talent at hand, they also did only one instrumental, thus not meeting my expectations. On the other hand, the old-school bass and drums solo featuring the slapping of George Anderson was pretty cool. They came back for one more, doing "Down On The Street", having everybody on their feet, ending the festival in style.
Monday night, flutist Althea Rene took the stage, accompanied by Martin Feske on guitar, Marcus Finnie on drums and Marius Goldhammer on bass. She plays a beautiful alto flute and covered several tracks from her various releases, among them "Free" and "Gypsy Soul". The band was cooking and Athea Rene moved the crowd with her great playing. She did a stroll through the audience and doing a lengthy flute solo where she pulled all the stops. For the next uptempo song she asked for five dancers to join her on stage, she got ten, which led to a great party right on stage, which was fun. During the last song of her show, special guest James Lloyd came to the stage to play some mean fender rhodes piano. She was asked for an encore and did her version of the Roy Ayers classic "Mystic Voyage", where she traded licks with James Lloyd which was in the true spirit of jazz, wrapping up one of the best shows of the whole festival.
Next were the duo of guitarist Chris Standring and trumpet player Cindy Brandley, tagged as C&C Soul Factory, accompanied by Marcus Finnie on drums, Marius Goldhammer on bass and Lutz Deterra on keys. They had a certain chemistry and worked together well, playing songs from their respective catalogs. Chris Standring did "Oliver's Twist" and "Static In The Attic", while Cindy Bradley did "Lifted" and "Comin' Home To My Baby" (dedicated to her dog), among others, providing an entertaining show. Both players have serious chops and are great improvisors. They came back for an encore, playing Herbie Hancock's "Canteloupe Island", ending a great show.
Sunday night, rising star Vincent Ingala took the stage, he was supported by Mark Jaimes on guitar, Heiko Braun on drums, Frank Felix on bass and Oli Silk on keys. He had the audience in the palm of his hand right from the start with his silky smooth tenor sax, playing a song from his brand new release Personal Touch. He continued with a few tracks from his already vast catalog, like "Can't Stop Now" and "Coast To Coast", before he switched to the guitar, one of the highlights was his rendition of the People's Choice "Do It Any Way You Wanna" that was grooving hard. He continued on the sax with the title track from his new release, which went down very well, playing a little more than an hour, leaving a satisfied crowd.
The Bob James Trio appeared next, they were warmly received. The leader was accompanied by Pat Williams on drums and Michael Palazzolo on acoustic bass. They started their show with an acoustic trio song, before Bob James switched to the Fender Rhodes to play "Feel Like Making' Love", followed by "Night Crawler", which was simply awesome and brought up vivid memories of my youth, when this music was blowing my mind the first time. After those two classics, they showcased a few tracks from their upcoming trio release Espresso, one of these songs being an acoustic version of "Mr. Magic" which was pretty original. Next was a great version of "Ain't Misbehavin'", before they wrapped it up with the inevitable "Westchester Lady", that had guitarist Chris Standring guesting. They were asked back for an encore an did "Angela (Theme From Taxi)" which was almost too much for me. The band was great, drummer Pat Williams played in an understated and tasteful way, while bassist Michael Palazzolo provided some exciting and groovy bass work. This concert by this living legend with his top notch sidemen was a highlight of the festival.
Sunday morning, upcoming sax player Jazmin Ghent did her set, she was accompanied by Mark Jaimes on guitar, Heiko Braun on drums, Frank Felix on bass and Oli Silk on keys. She brought things up to speed with AWB's "Pick Up The Pieces" with James Lloyd and the Temptations' "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" with Nick Colionne guesting, but she dropped the ball bit on this one. Nevertheless she started to feel more comfortable with the next few songs, among them her own "Chocolate Sunshine" and her heartfelt rendition of the gospel classic "Walk With Me" that gave me goosebumps. She did a stroll into the audience during the nice slow burning "Lonely" by Janet Jackson that gave each band member an opportunity to solo. Then she had us get up and dance during her rendition of the Brothers Johnson classic "Stomp" and her hits medley of "Joy And Pain", "Outstanding" and "Don't Let Go", which closed the show. This young female player is a great talent and one to watch, with a few more years of experience, I am confident that she will join the ranks of the best of the genre.
After a set change, Incognito led by Bluey Maunick appeared, the band consisted of Matt Cooper on keys, Fancis Hylton on bass, Francesco Mendolia on drums, a new percussion player hailing from the Philippines, the three piece horn section, plus awesome guitar player Francisco Sales. The lineup of singers consisted of Mo Brandis, Imaani and Joy Rose. They kicked off the show with a jazz-funk instrumental, before they did their greatest songs like "1975", "Deep Water", "Still A Friend Of Mine", Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" and the epic drums and percussion battle that has become a firm part of their show. The band was tight and all the singers were singing beautifully. They finished their show well past midnight with their rendition of "Always There", closing a great evening of music.
Saturday night started with the show of keyboardist James Lloyd, founding member of the seminal group Pieces Of A Dream which was discovered and supported by the late Grover Washington, Jr. in the late 70ies. After decades in the business, James Lloyd released his first solo CD Here We Go in 2015 and emerged as a solo artist. He was supported by Lutz Deterra on keys, Martin Feske on guitar, Marcus Finnie on drums and Marius Goldhammer on bass. He entered the room from the rear playing his keytar, before he went through a sting of songs from his album, like the groovy "No Holds Barred", the heartfelt "Granted Wish" and the fusion track "For The Duke In Me", a tribute to the late George Duke. The show was mostly laid back, but time flew while we immersed ourselves into the melodic music of this man. He wrapped it up with the keytar strapped around his neck and a lengthy stroll through the audience. This was a very satisfying show by a true talent who emanates boundless joy.
After an intermission, guitarist Nick Colionne took over, he had Mark Jaimes on guitar, Heiko Braun on drums, Oli Silk on keys, plus his own bass player Gerrett Body. He dove right in with some uptempo tracks, featuring his awesome guitar skills, before he slowed it down with his rendition of "Rainy Night In Georgia", featuring his silky smooth voice, having keyboardist James Lloyd guesting on this song. Other songs played were "Morning Call" and "Keeping' It Cool". During the song "When You Love Somebody", he did a lengthy stroll into the audience, reaching out to his fans. For the grande finale, he had Marcus Anderson, Jazmin Ghent, Tim Bowman and James Lloyd joining him, first they channeled the spirit of JB, then did a long version of "Whatta 'Bout You" pulling all the stops, having everybody solo, plus several audience members to get up and dance, it was off the hook!
Saturday at noon saxophonist Marcus Anderson appeared, he was accompanied by Martin Feske on guitar, Marcus Finnie on drums, Marius Goldhammer on bass and Lutz Deterra on keys. He kicked off his show with a couple of high octane sax tracks, bringing things up to speed. He did one song on the EWI, before he did a nice cover of Michael Jackson's "Remember The Time", then doing a few of his own compositions, like "Backseat Driver" and "Cup Of Joe" with a nice guitar solo by Martin Feske. He did a stroll in the audience playing "Yearning For Your Love", handing out roses to some lucky females. Being a former band member of Prince, he paid his former boss a tribute with a Prince medley, among the songs played were "Diamonds And Pearls", "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" and "Purple Rain". Then he flipped the switch and funked it up with Prince's "Kiss" and Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk", having people on their feet, finishing an entertaining and varied show.