Laura Reed

All About Jazz: Charlotte Jazz Festival 2019

South African vocalist/multi instrumentalist Laura Reed (now based in North Carolina, and also active in Nashville) played the first show of the Jazz at the Pavilion series, a series of evening free concerts. Her style draws freely from rock, funk, blues and jazz, and she's a firecracker. Her backing band was making its first appearance in this configuration, but sounded like they had been together forever. "Silver Lining" was a funk-pop tune, but with the unusual addition of Reed's ukulele. "Wake Up" was propelled by a Motown beat, but her homage to Billie Holiday on "Fine And Mellow" stayed in traditional territory (with the modern touch of Reed walking through the audience with a wireless microphone).

Reed picked up an acoustic guitar for the original bossa nova from her album The Awakening (Five Foot Giant, 2014), followed by the vibrant 70s funk of her single "Shine." The arrangement of the Gershwin standard "Summertime" got a funk backbeat, while "Struggle" (also from the album) was a rousing Gospel anthem. The final number was an homage to the Alan Lomax field recording that was Reed's introduction to the blues. She picked up a harmonica, then quickly switched to another in the correct key, joking "they all look the same." She and the band launched into "Lord I Just Can't Keep From Crying." Reed was just as convincing as blues harp player as she had been singing in all of the previous styles. The entire set was a terrific demonstration of passion and energy.

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