Vaughnette Bigford, live at La Casa de Ibiza
by Nigel Campbell, The Blackberry Bro
Mungal Patasar’s “Dreadlocks” opened the show with Theron Shaw on acoustic guitar, Modupe Folasade Onilu on percussion and Rodney Alexander on bass. I have only two words to describe this: Music transformed.
Following up on that introductory piece was “Like Being In Love” with Theron working it and Vaughnette giving a masterclass in voice control. You know, this African queen – this Black beauty – sounds better than she looks; and she looks damn good! God bless you girl.
For context, Jazz & Fusion Tuesdays takes place in a club setting at La Casa de Ibiza. Nevertheless, when barman, “Sean on Osterizer”, was dished a mild rebuke for loudly making a margarita while the performance was happening, thebouff wasn’t lost on the audience. Artists need to be respected. No noise. Period!
Back on stage, “All is Fair in Love” was becoming the Theron Shaw show until, reality check, Vaughnette retook control and owned it.
Now the question which came to mind was, why is Vaughnette still working at Petrotrin? I am not biased because I promoted her in SONGBIRDS…live in 2009, but quality counts in the ethereal realm…and in V’s case, in dollars and cents. Where is a local Harry Belafonte when you need one anyway? (Nigel)
Listening to the Tanzanian love song “Malaika”, made popular by Miriam Makeba, I can tell that Vaughnette, like Makeba, is poised to become global – with proper management. V offered “Malaika” as a love song to her supporters who have stuck with her through it all.
Wait, THERON SHAW doing the vocals on “People Get Ready”? Curtis Mayfield must be smiling. ”Thank the Lord.”
Take a break and Vaughnette’s mentee, Alana Richardson, debuted the second set with “Ain’t I Good To You”. This was a fresh take on the song, one that demonstrated Alana’s potential. As for diction and phrasing, that will come with experience. Alana forged ahead on a Brazilian journey via Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Dindi”, with English lyrics, and thankfully made a safe landing.
Vaughnette regained the microphone…oh no, Vaughnette. Why? Lionel Richie’s “Oh No”? I’m afraid, not even a bass solo by Rodney could save this schmaltz. Nice acoustic arrangement though.
Vaughnette’s comeback is by way of the late Ras Shorty, a brilliant composer. Vaughnette’s interpretation of the Ras’ “Who God Bless” had the crowd singing along. Lyrics! Listen here, Trijntje Oosterhuis and Leonardo Amuedo of the Netherlands have nothing on Vaughnette and Theron. I know quality.
Columbia in the house now. Let me say that a Vaughnette show is The United Nations of Song! Trinidad audiences are missing this artist at the launching point if they are not here. Her Trinidad Theatre Workshop show with Theron, which had a similar set list, was just a sneak peak.
Then, there is the Blues. The Blues may be the main ingredient of jazz, but Vaughnette is the chef. (That was lame, I know. But it is true.)
At this point, Theron’s creative musical ideas seemed to supersede the execution. Why? Something was obviously wrong. Not even Rodney Alexander’s bass was a saving grace, as excellent as it was.
To close, calypsonian and composer Merchant’s “Oh Trinidad ” was given the jazz treatment, befitting the songsmith; segues seamlessly into Nappy’s “Old Time Days”. Carol Addison’s “Born To Shine” was given a funk makeover. The crowd thought they were in a Soca Monarch fete, trampling and stamping and getting on wotless! Perfect closer to a mature set.