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Aaron Neville Concert in Annapolis

Jan 04, 2011 01:32AM ● By Anonymous

Backed by the Aaron Neville quintet, led by his older brother Charles Neville, the evening would not have been complete without such standard favorites as “Tell It Like it Is”, the number one hit on the Rhythm and Blues Billboard charts in 1966 as well as “Everybody Plays the Fool” (1981) and “It’s All Right” (2006). But Neville also introduced a few songs from his newest album “I know I’ve Been Changed”, released this month, which highlights his love of gospel music. Songs like “I’ve Made Up My Mind” were richly enhanced by beautiful harmonies and skillful back-up singing while “Oh Freedom” focuses on the rich warmth, heavy vibrato, and gentle falsetto notes that have been Neville’s trademark as a soloist.

But there is another Neville, Charles, who almost stole the show with his outstanding saxophone performance on both tenor and bass. The second oldest Neville brother , who has played with such legendary greats as James Brown and B.B. King, Charles is the musical director of the quintet which backs up and enhances Aaron’s powerful vocal performance. All performers in the quintet are topnotch and the strictly instrumental portions of the evening made for pleasurable listening.

This was a Holiday concert and Aaron Neville is no stranger to Christmas music. His 1919 “Aaron Neville’s Soulful Christmas” was a platinum album and 2005 “Christmas Prayer” reached position #3 on the U.S. Gospel charts. While Bing Crosby’s rendition of “White Christmas” has always been a favorite” the scat version performed by Neville, sounded far superior. “Please Come Home for Christmas” is an old favorite, well suited to Neville’s rich voice.

My only criticism is that there was no room for dancing. With catchy tunes like “Under the Boardwalk” and “Yellow Moon” you just want to stand up and swing your hips. Neville is a versatile artist who is equally at home with gospel, country, blues, pop, and rock. Next time he comes to town, and he usually visits once a year, don’t miss his concert. But in the meantime, you might want to check out his albums or put a song or two on your Ipod for a quick fix.

Photo credit: Sarah A Friedman