Lizz has the Wright stuff
Going to see Lizz Wright in concert is like going to church without a minister, Bible or rituals.
Experiencing Wright Wednesday at the Dakota Jazz Club was a spiritual cleansing, thanks to her contagiously radiant face (with eyes closed while singing), gloriously soulful deep voice and churchy organist (Glenn Patscha, who usually plays with the folk collective Ollabelle).
Wright, 31, is the daughter of a Georgia minister and a church music director. She’s the kind of artist who introduces her band members before she sings a song. She also explained that she wasn’t going to be doing standards but doing much of the material from her fourth and latest album, “Fellowship,” which is kinda gospel.
Musically, Wright is a genre-blender/blurrer. So it's too limiting to say gospel, jazz, soul or whatever. On Wednesday, she took old pop hits – Gladys Knight’s “(I’ve Got To Use My) Imagination” and Blind Faith’s “Presence of the Lord” – and turned them into spirituals. She delivered “Imagination” with full-body determination and transformed “Presence” into a hymn that was stately and soulful, comforting and liberating.
Those two numbers were among the highlights of her 70-minute second set. Another stand-out was “Hey Mann,” a slow gospelly ballad. She gets lost in her singing like a gospel vocalist testifying in church. She radiates comfort and joy. She makes the experience feel very deep.
Not everything was transcendent. Her reading of Neil Young's "Old Man" was more conventional than special, and "In from the Storm" was a redundant funk-rocker that never took off.
But Wright truly found her groove on the dreamy, seductive, jazzy "Stop" and "Walk with Me, Lord," with her delicious voice floating over the fluid and funky groove laid down by her quartet.
Amen to this Wright stuff.


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