“I have never heard a set of music that moved me more.” – KAMANI
That is my quote.
KAMANI played the fourth night of their six-date run in Winter Park, Florida, November 13 at The New Standard, a great new club dedicated to outstanding food and music. This show was so over-the-top magnificent that words will barely suffice.
KAMANI is a collective put together for these shows with Nikki Glaspie (The Nth Power), drums and vocals; Nigel Hall (Lettuce), keyboards and vocals; Kat Dyson (Prince, Cyndi Lauper), guitar and vocals; and Matt Lapham (Shak Nasti, Roosevelt Collier Trio), bass. No matter how astounding that sounds, everyone there will assure you it was beyond imagination.
When the quartet took the stage, Glaspie set up a beat on drums as they got ready; she professed the importance of getting back out to play, promoted love and understanding, talked about joy and pain, and told us they were here “to heal America with the funk.” Hall told us it was his first time performing in eight months in describing what a great opportunity this was.
Hall then programmed an electronic groove that was clearly headed for “Joy and Pain,” the Maze song. The very instant Hall began to sing “Remember when you first found love how you felt so good,” I burst into tears (and I wasn’t the only one). You could feel the collective spirit in the room lift, people looking all around and smiling (and wiping away tears). I love Frankie Beverly, but…
Honestly, if you had asked me yesterday afternoon who my favorite singers on the scene are, I might or might not have mentioned Hall. Now he is my only answer.
There were so many dynamics at work here, most prominently the interplay, smiles, and laughter between Hall and Glaspie. Hall was originally a member of The Nth Power, and in fact later in the show Hall announced that there would be a reunion album in the works: Absolute Nth Power. And Dyson on guitar and Lapham on bass worked with them as if this band had been together for ten years.
Hall said he wanted to do a song by one of his top five keyboard players: Patrice Rushen. They romped through “Hang It Up,” Hall on electric piano and then synths. Lapham ripped this one wide open, and the triple harmonies of Glaspie, Hall, and Dyson were gorgeous. So, for that matter, was Dyson, with a brilliant outfit and fedora.
They went back for Maze with “Running Away,” Glaspie and Hall singing together. Hall’s electric piano solo was righteous, and Dyson ripped a fine solo as well, followed by Lapham. Next they offered up a nice arrangement of the signature Nth Power song “Only Love,” and the end of the set was a true delight. Hall said they were going to play a song by the Four Tops. He chose a brilliant song, the title track from the group’s 1976 album Catfish. It was incredible. Dyson had another fine solo, and Hall loved all over this song.
Set break. We had arrived an hour before the show and were there for the set break and afterward. BEST. SET. BREAK. MUSIC. EVER. Deep funk, the perfect complement.
When they returned for set two, Hall just began to sing. Leon Russell’s “A Song for You” washed over the entire room. And, just like that, we were all transported to the Church of Nigel Hall Love as he played electric piano. For a brief period, the band joined in, but it was mostly unaccompanied… and stunning in its beauty and simplicity. [ AND it was the fourth anniversary of Russell’s passing.]
Next they rolled into a funky groove that emerged as an unusual “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” Hall on synths before a great long jam, a superb Dyson solo, and Lapham crushing. Best of all, from our seats, we could see Glaspie unobstructed. She had “only” four drums and an array of cymbals, and she was a goddess.
Hall said, “This is the first time you’ve heard a guy sing Aretha.” He sanctified us with a soul-shaking version of “Jump to It.” A tenor sax player, Juan Rollen of LPT, suddenly popped up to join in. He soloed after Hall worked on his electric piano.
“Jump to It” led to a great solo from Glaspie, then guitar joining in, followed by Hall, playing Lapham’s bass, upside down (the bass, not Hall). WOW! Glaspie was amazing. Another great song (??) followed, then Dyson on a solo intro to another song by Maze (??). At some point, Hall praised and lamented older electronic equipment, including his silver-top piano. We were getting near the end, and Glaspie again preached love before Hall delivered one more time with “What a Fool Believes.” Dyson had one more fine solo. (I wish she had soloed more, and I wish she had played “Freedom” by Hendrix; heard her tearing that up during sound check.)
The outpouring of love going from band to audience and back was palpable all evening. A numerous people mentioned that you could see what a great time the band was having. Serious talk, Boca Raton: check RIGHT NOW to see if there are tickets left for the Funky Biscuit show tonight!
Thanks go to The New Standard and its standard-bearer, Nate Landwer. He also produced the four-camera video feed. Joe Donnelly gave us a great light show, and sound was handled excellently by Natalie Tuttle, who works for The Nth Power. Use this link to purchase the video of the show!
About KAMANI, Glaspie told us it is a healing plant and that we could look it up. We WERE speculating whether it was KAtMAttNIgelNIkki. But then that would have been KAMANINI. So no. Healing plant it is.