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Art-Alive.com

 

TULIVU DONNA CUMBERBATCH CROONS
AT JAZZ 966

     After the trio of Donald Smith on piano, Rachiim Ausar-Sahu on bass, and Andrei Strobert on drums opened the evening with John Coltrane’s superior standard “Naima,” a sound came from off stage: beautiful bars of a bodiless ballad, “All The Things You Are.”  The sound embraced the room; the room embraced the sound.  The trio staged a still life sculpture of silence.  There was no singer, only the song.  One heard the height of the song, the weight of the song, the color, contour, and core of the song – a full chorus of a cappella artistry in anonymity.

     Then came the emergence of the singer entering the second chorus as the trio materialized into the moment.  One now saw the song: Tulivu Donna Cumberbatch – the physical confirmation of the ballad and its beauty.  Her voice now became the very sound of sunrise while her spirit flowed freely with full moon force.  Cumberbatch’s songs were a cultural celebration of cloudless skies in  a hemisphere of holistic heat.  Her presence projected a pastel of passion, a portrait of poise.

     After “All The Things You Are,” Cumberbatch continued by connecting a distant solar system to a doo-wop street corner in her audience participatory adventurous arrangement of the beautiful Thelonious Monk ballad “Reflections.”  Next was a swing tempo vivacious version of  “Exactly Like You.”  Then came her intense interpretation of “The Blues Are Brewin’” dedicated to Ms. Blackwell “who does everything for the church but loves the blues.”  Cumberbatch sang, hummed, and moaned with consuming conviction while Smith galvanized the piano into a blues book of gospel graphics.  The following composition, a bossa nova entitled “If You Never Come To Me” exhibited the richness of her vocal range, displaying deep tones and showcasing stylistic smoothness.  On this, Strobert played the snare and tom-tom with the palms of his hands while his foot maintained high-hat dominance.

     Next came the bright, brilliant, and buoyant entry of Ellington’s “I’m Beginning To See The Light” and the blissful ballad “Like A Lover” with a stirring solo by Smith.  Cumberbatch closed out the first half with the unique and ultimate support song for Black  men who are “not ready” entitled “Pour It On Him Anyway” in which she avidly advised Black women to “Shower him with your love, drench him with your love, wet him with your love, and saturate him with your love.”

     For the second half, the trio reset the stage with a rousing rendition of Ellington’s “Caravan” which featured an invigorating introduction by Strobert, the piano pyrotechnics of Smith and a show stopping solo by Ausar-Sahu.  Cumberbatch returned with a jubilant interpretation of Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring,” the magical mood of the mellow “Dreamer,” and an uptempo version of “I  Didn’t Know What Time It Was” which she ended with an extended scatting showcase of excellence.

     Next was Djovan’s significant song “Samba Do Brado” which Cumberbatch explained told the story of how the samba came to Brazil by simulating the rhythm of Afrikan men shuffling their chains and the rhythm of Afrikan women shaking their hips.  While Cumberbatch gave us an authoritative earful of Portuguese lyrics, Strobert augmented his percussive authentication with atmospheric bird calls.  A devastating delivery of Diedre Murray’s dynamic “Last Waltz” followed, excerpted from her larger opus, “Unending Pain.”  Cumberbatch then treated the audience to a surprise guest vocalist Patsy Grant who sang a straight ahead, slow swing, crowd pleasing version of “Day By Day” while Cumberbatch crooned in creative and comprehensive accompaniment.

     Horace Silver’s “Peace” was a duet vehicle for the vocal skills of Smith who complemented Cumberbatch with spirit and sensitivity.  Next was Erskine Hawkins’ “Tuxedo Junction” which became the catalyst for a couple to jump up and dance.  In fact, I wanted to dance myself but reluctantly opted to maintain journalistic objectivity.  Cumberbatch then delighted the crowd by converting “The Man From Ipanema” into “The Man From Brooklyn.”  She closed with her own composition “Daughters of the Nile” which was inspired by Julie Dash’s film “Daughters of the Dust.”  For this final entry, the therapeutic value of wholesome lyrics and organic music reached a culmination.  Each solo was an exhibit of extended exuberance.

     Cumberbatch must be additionally commended for extensively exposing the work of great Afrikan composers.

Author: GEORGE EDWARD TAIT

Publication Name: NEW YORK AMSTERDAM NEWS

Publication Date: 08-03-96

 

 

 
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