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An Evening with Lizz Wright...

Webster's defines radiance as the quality of being radiant. It is further defined as radiating beams of light or brightly shining even glowing. The radiance that I speak of is that which vocalist/songwriter Lizz Wright gave as she performed on a rainy Monday evening at the Cerritos Center for Performing Arts. Her warmth and natural beauty filled the room as she sang beautiful melodies with such poise, grace, and innocence that you are just in awe. She caresses a lyric so deeply that you hang onto every word. There were times when I was so captivated that I would be breathless as she held us tightly in song.

Lizz opened with a smooth version of "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise" which blossomed into an enchanting bossa nova, then she brought us a soulful "Jazz (Ain't Nothin' But Soul)" which was first made popular by Betty Carter. We were embraced by the African rhythms and chants of "Afro Blue" which is on her much anticipated debut Verve album "Salt" which will be released on 5/13. I get a new understanding of this song each time I hear it. She also sang the dreamy "Blue Rose", the poignant "Silence" which featured a wonderful bass solo by Doug Weiss, and the romantically soulful ballad "Fire", all of which she penned for her upcoming release. She truly walked heavy as she evoked her soul and spirit into the gospel hymn "Walk With Me, Lord." She also sang two of my favorite standards from her performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival last summer, her bluesy, gospel-tinged "Eagle and Me" and a playful mid-tempo reading of "Nature Boy" which was truly a musical workout for her trio but she handled it with precision. Feeding her musically note for note were Kenny Banks playing a serious groove of his own on the piano, Doug Weiss thumping effectively on the bass, and E.J. Strickland working it out on the drums. Each had great and masterful solos throughout the performance.

The very skillful Anthony Wilson Quartet opened the evening with Anthony Wilson and John Pisano on guitar, John Clayton on bass, and Jeff Hamilton on drums. Their set included "You Were Meant For Me", "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and couple of Wilson's compositions. They were a great opener but seemed a little lengthy since we were waiting in great anticipation of Lizz.

She closed out our musical evening with the powerful title track "Salt" which speaks to the song in all of us. The audience loved her and made her feel welcome to be back in LA. We gave her a standing ovation and loud applause until she came back out and gave us a little more "Salt." Never has salt been so sweet.

There is an excellent in-depth article on Lizz from the LA Times entitled "Learning song by song", and check out her Verve website and coming soon, her new personal website, www.lizzwright.net.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Lizz Wright
  • Concert Date: 4/14/2003
  • Venue: Cerritos Center for Performing Arts
  • City State Country: Cerritios, CA
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