|‚ÄúAngel of the Night‚ÄĚ Angela Bofill feeling the love. Photo by Pat Johnson.
‚ÄúWhen I was 17, I met Angela Bofill, and we fell in love‚Ä¶ I will now play that love for you,‚ÄĚ at which point legendary Latin jazz flautist David Valentin took flight with a jaw-dropping riff that included vocalese while playing the flute, the kick-off to several nights of homage to the ‚ÄúAngel of the Night,‚ÄĚ Angela Bofill, at The Rrazz Room.
Angela (Angie) has gone through two major strokes. Now in the process of healing, her manager Rich Engel came up with The Angela Bofill Experience, an evening of Angie‚Äôs music that she narrates with performances by a repertory of artists, featuring Maysa, with guests including Phil Perry, Kim Waters and others as well as three member of Angie‚Äôs original touring band: Moe Daniels (keyboards), Greg Phillips (drums) and Kevin Walker (bass). An honor and tribute to the gracious spirit and enormous talent of this Latin jazz/R&B artist/ singer/ songwriter, the firepower of talent had the Hotel Nikko‚Äôs girders warping. Truly mind-blowing.
Angie speaks with some effort, yet her humor is thoroughly intact. Able to laugh with her fate, ‚ÄúI speak like Tarzan ‚Äď Me Angie, You Cheetah,‚ÄĚ her brilliant spirit has not dimmed. Throughout the evening, she displays a humble, humorous nature. ‚ÄúWho knows, I just might become the first stroke-survivor rap artist ‚ÄĒ ‚ÄėA stroke is no joke‚Äô,‚ÄĚ punctuating her joke with a gangsta lean. Singing the majority of vocals for Angie is Maysa (lead singer of ‚ÄúIncognito‚ÄĚ) who humbly stated, ‚ÄúThis woman doesn‚Äôt even know it, but she taught me how to sing. I‚Äôd listen to her records, and that‚Äôs how I learned.‚ÄĚ
Attending two different performances, though each was different, both were equally brilliant. In the first, Maysa displayed killer Latin jazz scat riffs. Her duets with singer Phil Perry (who also delivered a fierce, flawless, muscularly-controlled falsetto during his solos) were the stuff of live performance dreams. At the second performance, Maysa‚Äôs jazz scat riffs disappeared, yet she let out some powerful vocals.
Phil Perry. Simply wow! You see greatness at work as he gets ego out of the way and clearly becomes the vessel for something far bigger: his enormous talent. Eyes twinkling, he shared a story about how Angie told tour promoters to place Perry in the headline slot instead of her, a measure of Angie‚Äôs magnanimous, grounded spirit. Later, Perry and Valentin give as well as get in a duet of voice versus flute. Perry elevates it a notch with his whistling in perfect pitch to the riffs Valentin plays. Pure heaven.
Norm Connors then offered his hit ‚ÄúStarship,‚ÄĚ sitting in for a few sets on drums while Donnie Williams sang sweet vocals with presence-plus.
Saxophonist Kim Waters tore the roof off the building with some of the finest sax work heard in The Rrazz Room. Three syllables describe him: A-Maz-Zing! David Mark‚Äôs muscular bari-sax on one earlier tune was bodacious. A guest back-up vocalist (whose name I couldn‚Äôt hear) provided pitch-perfect harmonies and support.
At the core of the evening was Angie‚Äôs touring band. These three gentlemen alone are enough to send the night into the stratosphere. Always smiling, truly finding his bliss in his music, what Moe Daniels does on keyboards is nothing short of astounding ‚ÄĒ making the band sound like a 12-piece combo, rich, lush, full. The heartbeat of this mega-talented band, Greg Phillips keeps them on the rhythm with precision and flair. Kevin Walker becomes one with his bass, artist and instrument welded into one, as he inhabits the groove like nobody‚Äôs business (artists like Justin Timberlake and Prince have worked to Walker‚Äôs groove).
The mega-talent reached beyond the stage. During one performance, Jeanie Tracy was in the house. She, Angie and Patti Austin combined forces for several tracks on one of Diana Ross‚Äô albums.
The Angela Bofill Experience goes on to the Smooth Jazz Cruise this Fall (October 8). Info at spiritofnewyork.com. Powerful proof of the healing power of music, the show ‚ÄĒ and the woman it celebrates ‚ÄĒ is a celebration of this maxim.