BWW Review: QC Summerfest Kick-Off With A Bang
The Belk Theater was the perfect venue for a spectacular night of jazz...the kick-off to the 2017 QC Summerfest, with headliners Boney James and Althea Rene´. The night began with local saxophonist, Harvey Cummings II, who set the atmosphere with tunes from his musical repertoire. Comedian Khai Morgan tickled our funny bone with hilarious jokes concerning parenthood and relationships.
All of this prepared us for the headliners, Flutist Althea Rene´ and saxophonist Boney James. Ms. Althea graced the stage first looking fabulous in an electrifying aqua blue dress with sparkling silver shoes. This was my very first time seeing her in concert, and I will be the first to say...she has gained a lifetime fan. She is undeniably the best flutist I have ever heard. Her contemporary jazz style mixed with rhythm and soul, had the audience delivering multiple standing ovations. The word "awesome" is an understatement, but it is the best compliment I can find in my vocabulary. I have never heard anyone make a flute "talk" and "touch" the soul as Ms. Althea Rene´ did.
She performed a rendition of Stephanie Mills' What You Gonna Do With My Loving that had the audience singing, swaying, and dancing in the aisle. And her instrumental presentation of Denise Williams' Free was so sweet and soothing. I wasn't surprised at her revelation that her tune, In The Flow, is the first flute featured single ranked #1 in the history of Billboard Music Chart. She also revealed that her current single Gypsy Soul is currently #1 and has been for the last 19 weeks. Althea is originally from The Motor City, Detroit Michigan. Her father, Dezie McCullers, was one of Motown's Funk Brothers horn section. Prior to launching her fulltime musical career, Althea was a Wayne County Deputy Sheriff in Detroit, Michigan. After her performance, she graciously greeted her fans (me included) by taking pictures and signing autographs. Definitely, a class act!
Last, but certainly not least, Sir Boney James saturated the stage with his big saxophone sound. A veteran at this, and a return favorite of the festival, Boney wasted no time in captivating his diverse audience with some of his beloved favorites such as Metropolis and Grazing In The Grass. The qualities I love the most about Boney James is his "soulfulness" and his "coolness". It's as if he is one of your cool friends you hang around with on the "block". I am a longtime fan of his. And his band members...Brian Simpson stroked the ivories on his keyboard with precision and smooth groove. Can we give the drummer some? I can't remember his name but would be remised if I didn't mention him, he was incredible! I rank him amongst the greatest I've heard. Boney tried to end the night with his hit tune, Ride, however, the audience demanded an encore song and Boney complied. Boney James will be releasing a new CD in September entitled, Honestly. I can't wait for it!
I would like to give kudos to the Jazz Diva and all who are responsible for bringing great jazz to the Queen City...this one was one of the best! Keep up the great work. See you next year, QC Summerfest 2018.