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Thursday 20: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Chillin’ with the Cello - Ayanna Witter-Johnson @ The Jazz Cafe December 9


(Review by Steve H/Photos courtesy of Mike Tilley).
Despite this gig starting at the ungodly hour of 7pm the Jazz Cafe was packed for the performance of the British folk/soul singer Ayanna Witter-Johnson. The audience, some with sleep still in their eyes, were rewarded with a performance of charm, elegance, and sheer quality. Witter-Johnson had arrived with a very impressive CV - MOBO nominated and the only non-American ever to win Amateur Night at the iconic Apollo Theatre in Harlem.

Accompanied mainly on her cello ‘Reuben’ and occasionally on her first instrument, piano, Ayanna performed a series of self-penned songs with a smattering of covers with great aplomb. Most of the originals are based on her own life’s experience encompassing loves past, present, and future. My only reservation with these numbers was that they all seemed to be played at the same smooth and relaxed level. Personally, I would have preferred some occasional dramatic outbursts to take us out of our comfort zone.
The covers did offer some welcome contrast particularly a Jamaican folk song and Oleta Adam’s Get Here which was the first song Ayanna performed in public (aged 9) and was further enhanced with backing vocals from the audience. Her cello playing was absolutely enthralling,  aside from the traditional bow, Ayanna plucked, strummed and hit (ever so gently)  Reuben to extract some wonderful sound from this most beguiling of instruments. By the end of the evening the packed Cafe had been thoroughly captivated and entertained by this super talented artist who will only get better and better. To quote from the song of night; Black Panther ‘like a black panther I’m free to roam without a keeper you’ll never need to feel my power’.
Steve H.

1 comment :

Steve T said...

Looks like I picked the wrong weekend to stop eating.

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