By Chris J. Walker

the word contemporary
Kandace Springs West Hollywood Tickets, The Sun Rose Apr 04, 2024 |  Bandsintown

Nashville-based Kandace Springs’s playful, almost prankster-like personality sometimes belies her extraordinary talent. The intimate Sun Rose Room with the audience within spitting distance, was perfect for her to interact and joke with them. There, she had a CD release show for Run Your Race, her latest recording. The project like many these days was created during the Pandemic, and notably an homage to her father Kenneth “Scat” Springs, who sadly passed away in 2021.

“Scat” Springs was a talented singer in his own right, and unquestionably, her guiding light. He who initially got his daughter into music, promoted her and even connected her with the hitmaking songwriting/producing team Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken. They worked with Springs and eventually got her signed to Blue Note Records. The pianist/singer/songwriter was also significantly mentored by Prince. He was so impressed by one of her videos that he requested she perform at his Paisley Park Studio for the 30th Anniversary of his landmark Purple Rain album.

Springs, although very capable of reveling in the vein of funk and R&B sophisticatedly sang and mostly played jazzy ballads with her cohorts. They were the highly regarded Camile Gainer-Jones on drums, and Destiny Diggs on bass, who is presently studying at The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. “We’ll Find A Way” led off and was sweetly sung with traces of Roberta Flack, whose immortal classics “Killing Me Softly and “First Time Ever I Saw (Your Face)” wer played later, while “So Far, So Near” written when Springs was 16 had an alluring aura.

Switching to electric piano she solely and sensually rendered “Look,” and with the other players became seductive for heartbeat-like “Chasing Shadows” as the audience sang the chorus. Springs went to back to piano for Bob Dorough’s standard “Devil May Care” (not on the album), that spotlighted the bassist, and also the drummer soloing without sticks.

However, Billie Ellish and her brother Finneas’ Oscar-winning and Grammy-nominated “What I Was Made For” from the Barbie movie is on the record and was “Kandacized” with angelic singing and subtle lyric modification. For variety in tempo and texture, “Precious Love” was contemporary oriented with lighty funky undertones. Afterwards, Springs surprisingly took a moment to embarrass her sister Kimber who was in attendance.

Getting back to the album were electric piano grooves, dreamy “If I Had My Way,” and “Pulse” featuring Springs playfully imitating Nina Simone, Michael McDonald, Prince and Norah Jones to amuse the audience. For some seriousness, the singer briefly showed off her classical skills and mashed Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” with Screaming J. Hawkins “I Put a Spell on You” that isn’t on the album. Closing out the enjoyable show were the passionately sung “Wild is The Wind,” and the title track. It’s a metaphor for her father’s philosophy and record-breaking days as a track star. For more info go to: and

Chris Botti Tickets | 11th April | The Wiltern Tickets | The Wiltern

Trumpeter Chris Botti has been an inclusive artist long before the term became a cultural/political buzzword or wedge. Aspects of jazz, classical, opera, pop and even rock are normally included in his concerts and often serve as a starting point for less knowledgeable attendees. Most importantly, the bandleader, who’s a Portland, Oregon native, is never polemic or condescending, but instead encouraging and somewhat benevolent.    

At the Wiltern, he surprisingly started off low-key, playing impressionistic versions of chestnuts “Danny Boy” and “Someday My Prince Will Come” that are on his latest CD Vol.1. (on Blue Note), with minimal band support initially. Players, Julian Pollack-piano, Leonardo Amuedo-guitar, Daniel Chmielinski-bass and Lee Pearson-drums eventually fully joined in to jazz-up the latter tune that included tasteful piano, guitar, bass and of course trumpet solos. The white gloves came off afterwards with Mancini’s “Two for the Road” that began conventionally and quickly shifted to an assaulting fused jazz piece filled with blazing jamming that drew howls and cheers from the audience.

Botti returned to classical with composer’s Ennio Morricone’s “Deborah’s Theme” from the film Once Upon A Time In America, featuring breathtaking playing from violinist Caroline Campbell, who often appears with the band. In addition to that, she and the bandleader graced the theater with a riveting duet version of “Emmanuel.”  Afterwards, with the  trumpeter’s encouragement she cut loose and jammed with the other players and intermeshed classical, bluegrass, Disney, Celtic, Broadway, TV themes and rock elements, including Led Zeppelin’s “Kasmir” to fully blow the audience away.

From there the guest appearances abounded, starting with tenor saxophonist Chase Baird sitting in with the band for “Milestones” that unleashed Botti’s straight-ahead chops. Vocalist Alicia Olatuja put a soulful spin on things for Sinatra’s jazz hits “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” that wowed the audience.

John Splithoff, the only vocalist on Botti’s new release who was more in the vein of pop and country spotlighted his originals “Raye,” and soothing ballad “Paris” from the album. The singer/guitarist amusingly prefaced that the song was not based on a good experience, but instead hopeful anticipation.

Veronica Swift was another guest and nearly took over the concert with powerful singing and scatting for a hard-driving version of “T

.” She kept the audience enthralled with strong and soulful vocals for hard-bop staple “Moanin’” that included Baird and Botti contributing scorching solos. Swift surprised everyone by playing the bandleader’s trumpet after he casually offered it to her when she fingered a few notes during his solo. He and the audience were astonished to hear she could really play!

Taking things fully over the top was Sting, Botti’s old boss, who recognized the trumpeter’s potential to be a successful solo artist over 25 years ago. The pop/jazz superstar coolly rendered his songs “Moon Over Bourbon Street” and “Seven Days” with the trumpeter and band injecting fiery accompaniment.

Without Sting, all the singers joined Botti and band for Coldplay’s “Fix You” also on Vol.1. and Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” as the encore to end a very memorable concert. For more info go to: and

From the late ’80s to the present Grammy-winning bassist/songwriter/singer/producer/activist Meshell Ndegeocello has been a true artist, with both chart-making hits and experimental projects—essentially a free and very creative spirit musically and culturally. Trying to pin her down to one particular function or genre is difficult, but essentially, she’s about truth and liberation of the mind, body and soul for everyone, and isn’t reclusive or demonstrative.

At The United Theatre on Broadway, she presented in conjunction with CAP UCLANo More Water / The Fire Next Time; The Gospel of James Baldwin. It was derived from the civil rights icon’s 1963 essay book The Fire Next Time that focused on America’s racial history, and also its race and religion issues. Those topics were not heartwarming or inviting and Ndegeocello used the structure of her musical and art piece Can I Get a Witness? The Gospel of James Baldwin that debuted in Harlem, New York in 2016 as the framework.

The exposition for the nearly two-hour show was Afro-centric and church-like. The participants donned church robes, with several of them having “FUCK RASCISM,” “BLACK JOY” and “WOMANISM” scrawled on them. They came to the stage from the aisles and thanked the audience for attending before going on onstage. Ndegeocello decreed the stage, “a space where love and hate can live together, or pain and comfort, or shame and pride, entertainment, ritual, and duty can live together and foster well-being.”

Joined by Jake Sherman-keyboards, Abe Rounds-drums, Kenita Miller-Hicks- vocals, Chris Bruce-guitar, Justin Hicks-vocals and Jebin Bruni-keyboards, Ndegeocello generated a hypnotic mix of jazz, R&B, funk, spirituals, neo-soul, gospel and world music. That alone could have been the concert, but was just the backdrop, along with projected videos, photos and graphics overhead.

Staceyann ChinKenita Miller-Hicks, Ndegeocelo and Justin Miller-Hicks supplied the real fire power, while reciting Baldwin’s impactful poetry, their own commanding spoken word pieces and sermons in rally-like fashion. They began humorously and then became reflective, philosophical, serious, inciteful and even revolutionary, especially from Chin. The heated subject matter focused on white supremacy, feminism and black women, civil disobedience/protest, poverty, repression, the me too movement and hate.

Overall, some in the audience were uncomfortable, while many were emboldened. To release tension, attendees were invited to dance freely, shout out and write their comments on cards distributed around the theatre. Hopefully, Ndegeocello will return with a much-needed second installment. For more info go to: and

Band on top if the word Fusion

The term “revolutionary” is loosely thrown about when it comes to musicians and Nina Simone, Dylan, Billie Holiday, Gil Scott-Heron and Bob Marley did plenty of conscious-raising.  However, Brazilian icon Caetano Veloso, along with longtime friend and collaborator Gilberto Gil, are among the few who actually served time, and were exiled solely for their anti-government music in 1969. They were architects of the country’s avant-garde and rock oriented Tropicália and more homogeneous MPB movements They later returned to Brazil in 1972 and never curtailed their creative impulses.

Veloso now 81, as part of his “farewell tour” performed at Disney Hall, singing in Portuguese. He was backed by a very youthful sextet that included three percussionists, a bassist, a keyboardist, and Lucas Nunes on keyboards and guitar. He’s the producer of the Brazilian musical statesman’s most recent recording 2021 Meu Coco.

Before Veloso played a note or said anything he was loudly greeted with cheers, whistling and applause—much like a rock star. He somewhat mellowed the audience with the over 15-year old tune “Avarandado.” It began with his calming singing and gentle acoustic guitar playing, before the band joined in with a mix of pounding drumming and lightly rhythmic playing.

The title track of his last album followed and shimmered with lightly snarling guitar and the bandleader’s gentle singing. Alternatively, “Não Vou Deixar” also from the new album was rocking and showcased Veloso’s sensual crooning, which delighted the audience, along with stripped down Spanish flavored “Ciclâmen do Líbano.”

Going back to 1978 was the up-beat and thundering percussion-laden “Sampa,” and contemporary jazz/bossa styled “Muito Romântico” that featured a fused bass solo and hot percussion jam that thrilled the audience. Even further back was “Baby” that Veloso originally recorded with Gal Costa in 1968 that totally captivated the audience.

From the 21st Century was the headliner’s “Michaelangelo Antonioni” a tribute to the Italian filmmaker, whose films he watched as a teen in his home town São Paulo that embodied easy flowing rhythms and singing. In the closing moments of the crowd pleasing concert Veloso served up playful “Sem Samba Não Dá” from the new CD and festive “Lua de São Jorge” from the mid ‘90s to garner a very enthusiastic standing ovation.

For the encore lulabye-like “Mansidão,” contemporary samba “Odara” and carnival-like “A luz de Tieta” were performed. For more info go to: and   

Text Special Mention
Technically Acceptable | DO THE M@TH

Former longtime band member of the Bad Plus, classically trained, former Fred Hersh protégé and New England Conservatory Professor, pianist/composer Ethan Iverson appeared at Sam First with his trio. It consisted of him, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Peter Erskine. Technically Acceptable, Iverson’s newest project on Blue Note Records was highlighted and the show began with macabre-tinged and off kilter blues “It’s Fine to Decline.” The tune was wrought with the bandleader’s subtle, yet also adventurous merging of post-bop and modal with extended sections for bass and drums.

Iverson’s adept nimbleness and classical facility came into focus for the superbly played standard “The Song is You.” Alternately, Horace Silver’s hardbop classic “Song For My Father,” “Stompin’ at The Savoy” and “The Shadow of Your Smile” became a refined and meticulous exercises in the pianist’s hands. Also of the same ilk was Monk’s “Round Midnight” that’s on the record and was done as an extremely lyrical and bebop flavored interpretation. While, the iconoclast’s “By-Ya” adorned by a drum solo, and “Evidence” with touch of stride, to a lesser degree swung a bit more with the pianist exhibiting impressive energy and improvisation to draw strong applause. The melody line for “All The Things You Are” as Iverson dryly described it  as being a bit obscure, included masterful piano runs of classical and jazz intermingling, along with bass turning in a high caliber solo. Wrapping up the interesting set was the supper jazz-like title track. For more info go to: and    

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