FIJM: Long Live the Queen
July 4, 2008. Posted by Thurston Briscoe.
My birthday gifts started last night when I went to a concert by Aretha Franklin here at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Backed by a big band, four singers, and two tambourine players (that's right), the Queen of Soul opened dramatically with a salute to Sly Stone. First it was the classic "I Want to Take you Higher" then "Dance to the Music". We were all on our feet.
Next came a string of Aretha hits: "Natural Woman," "Think," "Chain of Fools." She introduced her son Teddy, featured on guitar at the beginning of "Chain of Fools." She finished the first half of her show with "Ain't No Way" and the soul and feminist anthem, "Respect".
The second half of the show opened with Montreal Jazz Festival co-founder Andre Menard, who presented Aretha with the festival's prestigious Ella Fitzgerald Award, "in recognition of the range, versatility, originality of improvisation and quality of repertoire of an internationally recognized jazz singer."
Aretha accepted the award with a version of an Ella favorite, "Somewhere Beyond the Sea".
When she sat at the piano, Aretha moved the Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel hit "Bridge Over Troubled Water" to the church with a spirited call and response that moved us into another of her hits, "Spirit in the Dark".
Aretha talked to the audience during her show and said she hoped she had given us everything we wanted to hear. Then she treated us to a new gospel tinged ballad. I was not able to hear the name of the song, but the way she "SANG" made me think it might be her next hit. As the applause died down, someone in the crowd shouted "Long Live the Queen!" Aretha returned the gesture with her finale ... "Believe (in yourself)" ... from the musical "The Wiz".
© 2008 WBGO
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