All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

260

Mavis Staples + Stephanie McKay at Central Park Summerstage

Ernest Barteldes By

Sign in to view read count
Mississippi is a great place to come from, but it is even a better place to get away from —Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples + Stephanie McKay
Central Park Summerstage
New York, New York
June 13, 2008

On what turned out to be a mild summer evening, Bronx-born Stephanie McKay took the stage at Central Park Summerstage's opening night with her 9-piece band comprising Manny Laine (drums), Eli Menezes (guitar), Codee (keyboards), Vicente Archer (bass) and vocalists (Lisala , Keith Fluit, Rene Trenier) with "Harlem," a funk-inflected blues number, quickly moving on to "Jackson Avenue," an upbeat song with lyrics about her native upper-New York City borough.


She didn't miss the opportunity to address the situation of the troops stationed abroad with the compelling "This Letter," a tune with lyrics inspired by actual letters from soldiers fighting in Iraq. After that, she turned up the heat with a more soul-driven number with a hip-hop backbeat. Social issues were addressed with "Tell It Like It Is," a song about urban violence and its dire consequences.


"Thinking of You," which had more of a dance vibe, turned out to be one of the concert's highlights as it showcased both the chops of Menezes and Laine, who took over the song, nearly stealing it from the singer. She closed with a "Surely Feels Good," a Spiritually-tinged tune that moved the audience, most of whom were there for the evening's headliner, Mavis Staples.



McKay, who has done steady work in the business for a number of years had a happy moment with her Central Park set, and just might have won some new fans in her quest to reach more mainstream audiences.



After a short break, the legendary Mavis Staples opened her set with Buffalo Springfield's "Everybody Look What's Going Down" and, after acknowledging the crowd, went on to ""Down In Mississipi," a nod to the state where she was born many years ago. Still in great shape despite a mildly stage-worn voice, she had the simple backing of a Chicago-based band formed by guitar, bass, drums and three supporting vocalists.

The song afforded her the opportunity to remember the dark years of the Jim Crow years in the South, with the pain of segregation and the changes brought on by the Civil Rights movement led by The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. "Mississippi is a great place to come from, but it is even a better place to get away from," she said as the tune ended, which got loud applause and a chuckle from the audience.



Another great moment came with "Down In The Water," which she approached with her trademark Gospel- rooted vocals; the band played it with a funk-blues vibe, immediately getting the audience moving.



Accompanied solely by her guitarist, she sang the poignant "Waiting For My Child to Come Home" clearly with the troops abroad in mind, as she ended the tune saying that "there are thousands of families in America waiting for their children to come home."



Arguably the best moment came with The Band's "The Weight," a song on which The Staples Singers were featured prominently during the landmark 1978 movie The Last Waltz (directed by Martin Scorcese), which chronicles The Band's final concert. On her arrangement, one of her vocalists shared the lead with her, and both received thunderous applause at the end.



Mavis Staples had delivered what her fans expected—a seamless collection of tunes that prompted everyone to sing along. It was a highly enjoyable set that kept us hoping for many returns.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Abdullah Ibrahim at the Michigan Theater Live Reviews
Abdullah Ibrahim at the Michigan Theater
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: April 25, 2018
Read The Jane Getter Premonition at Iridium Live Reviews
The Jane Getter Premonition at Iridium
by Roger Weisman
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Liberty Ellman Trio at Crescent Arts Centre Live Reviews
Liberty Ellman Trio at Crescent Arts Centre
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Tallinn Music Week 2018 Live Reviews
Tallinn Music Week 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: April 19, 2018
Read James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum Live Reviews
James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum
by Phillip Woolever
Published: April 17, 2018
Read Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano Live Reviews
Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 16, 2018
Read "October Revolution in Jazz & Contemporary Music 2017" Live Reviews October Revolution in Jazz & Contemporary Music 2017
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 24, 2017
Read "Vorcza at Nectar's" Live Reviews Vorcza at Nectar's
by Doug Collette
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "Fred Hersch's Leaves Of Grass at Jazz at Lincoln Center" Live Reviews Fred Hersch's Leaves Of Grass at Jazz at Lincoln Center
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 26, 2017
Read "Arturo Sandoval At Yoshi's Oakland" Live Reviews Arturo Sandoval At Yoshi's Oakland
by Walter Atkins
Published: August 17, 2017