Thursday, June 26, 2014

Jazz Fest 2014, Day 6: Frank reviews Diane Schuur, 5Head, and Rebel Montez with Christine Ohlman's 'code of cool'

Posted By on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 12:35 AM

Diane Schuur has the voice of an angel with a rusty halo. That is to say, it’s angelic but Schuur flexes it with sex appeal and impish glee. She’s one hep chick.

Opening so wonderful and swinging, the first lady of vocal jazz went from scat to lyric, from contralto squeal to a hooker appeal —- “how, how, how.” If there is one word to describe her early set at Kilbourn Hall tonight, it's “control” —- control on the range, control on the rhythm section’s hairpin turns and deep dish groove. And can I just say Ulysses Owens is the man!

Despite her vocal range on love songs or love-lost songs, Schuur hovers around heartache and heartbreak in a way that is palpable and contagious even in the face of her obvious joy.

click to enlarge Christine Ohlman performed at Abilene. - PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • Christine Ohlman performed at Abilene.
click to enlarge Diane Schurr performed at Kilbourn Hall. - PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • Diane Schurr performed at Kilbourn Hall.

Squeezed my way into The Squeezers stage to dig 5Head continue its “We’re only getting back together for one show" shuck ’n’ jive from two years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Rochester’s ska heroes are back… and apparently so are a lot of people who squeezed their way in as well. The joint was nut to butt by showtime.

The band sounded absolutely great and looked great, too. (Dancing girls in checkerboard halter tops feverishly go-going on stage didn’t hurt.) The horns were big and bad and the band's accelerated dynamics flooded the asphalt dance floor with happy feet. Best show I’ve seen the band put on. They were prime; they were choice.

click to enlarge 5Head performed at the Inn on Broadway. - PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • 5Head performed at the Inn on Broadway.
Christine Ohlman brought the low down and dirty rock ’n’ roll to the Abilene stage with her band, Rebel Montez. People are always bumpin’ their gums about Ohlman’s sky-high platinum beehive, and though, yes, it’s cool (the higher the hair, the nearer to God), but I dig her sky-high vocals and the storied lyrics of a life that made that voice.

Ohlman is a true denizen of the late-night scene with its smoke and liquor and its own code of cool. She and the band started the late show to a small audience that swelled to capacity in a matter of minutes. They all heard the siren call of the bouffant, the beehive, the badass.

Tomorrow night it’s Joey De Francesco, Buddy Guy, and Lucinda Williams. Now I lay me down to dream of angels, beehives, and checkerboard halter tops.

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