Aaron West and the music of Stevie Wonder – February 15th, 2018
We have many great nights of music and vocals at the Brisbane Jazz Club. As a regular, I love them all. But on some nights, early in the first set, I find myself so spellbound, so engaged, that I begin to sense a searching for superlatives, a listening for catchphrases, an eye for the memorable moment…and a need for pen and paper.
And I scribble, so that those of you not fortunate enough to have been here, can make plans to catch it next time.
Tonight, Aaron West and his ensemble of musicians presented an outstanding selection of soaring, soulful vocals and exquisitely delivered arrangements of the songs of one Stevland Hardaway Morris; Stevie Wonder.
The performers were Aaron West on guitar and vocals; Paul Steedman, Melanie Vietheer, aka Sexy, and Jo Doyle on vocals; James Feagai, aka Jimmy Jam, on keys and mbira (thumb piano); Max Stowers on six-string bass and backing vocals; James Sandon, aka the Barry White of backing vocalists, on drums.
At times they were joined on stage by guest musicians; Chris Palmer and Aaron Saxon on guitar, and Galapagos Duck’s Wil Sargisson on piano.
Every member of this band looked and performed as if there was nowhere else they would rather be than on the BJC stage tonight. Their shared love of these songs created an electric vibe of love and joy which poured out across the audience. It filled their ballads with a pulsating heart and soul, and amplified Aaron’s big, shiny, smiling enthusiasm on the struttin’, funkier stuff.
Through sweeping new arrangements of Stevie classics and several lesser known, hidden gems, the night ran like the soundtrack of an edge-of-the-seat movie…or like a favourite live album under high quality headphones. (Sound man, Mark Smith recorded the performance tonight. Can we look forward to what would surely be a great live album?)
Speaking of albums, Aaron explained that they are currently recording an album of Stevie’s songs. In 12 months they have recorded 22 tracks and still have a way to go. (Something else to look forward to).
Across the night, the band regularly responded to requests. Many performers prefer to stick to a night’s Set List. Not these guys. Aaron and his musos played several unrehearsed requests; nailing every one.
As a finale, the much requested Superstition was paired with Living For The City. It brought the house down. Again.
Brilliant. What an atmosphere you created and sustained with your skills, your instruments, your harmonies and your smiles.
Hey, it was all so good, that if Stevie himself had been here, his would surely have been the biggest smile among the packed house Thursday night audience.
Thank you, Aaron West and your great musicians, for bringing Stevie’s world of Wonder to the Brisbane Jazz Club.
‘Till next time.
Brisbane Jazz Club