Lichfield Art’s 30th Jazz and Blues festival started with a bang. All of the ingredients for a successful concert were in place. A near-capacity audience, some of the finest musicians on the live circuit, and some of the most feet-tapping and ear-grabbing songs committed to tape in the past fifty years, by the legendary Stevie Wonder.

The ensemble, led by the soulful vocals of Noel McCalla and the saxophone virtuoso Derek Nash were completed by keyboard player Neil Angilley, bass player Jonathan Noyce, drummer Nic France and guitar player Tim Cansfield, all professional musicians with the musical capacity to cover all of the musical sounds and genres in Stevie Wonder’s wide-ranging repertoire.

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Starting with a lively Signed, Sealed, Delivered, and You Are The Sunshine of My Life, they soon grabbed the audience’s attention. With Sir Duke showing the band to great effect, things slowed down for an acoustic version of Inner Visions and Another Star. A quick change to the setlist found Mr Know It All incredibly well played and sung, giving the band the first of its many standing ovations.

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The funk of Higher Ground, and For Once in My Life closed the first set and left a high standard for the second half to follow. This set was peppered with Stevie Wonder classics. Local jazz musician Nick Dewhurst lent his trumpet talents to Isn’t She Lovely, whilst hits such as Don’t You Worry About A Thing turned the Garrick suite into a disco. Superstition and Ma Cherie Amour closed the concerts.

Some Kinda Wonderful is an exciting, musically excellent show. It is well worth seeing, and it is touring around the country soon.

 

Ben Macnair