Michael Fowler Centre, 7th Jun 2019
Reviewed by: Colin Morris
The Wellington Jazz Festival serves as a major conduit to discovering new acts to fall in love with. Tonight, we fell head over heels in aroha.
Ghost-Note is an example of a new act, though two of its personnel, Robert Searight and Nate Worth, both drummers, have appeared in New Zealand before as part of the Snarky Puppy group. In 2017 I wrote that Snarky Puppy felt like a band painting by numbers. If I felt that band was really a limp hot dog, then Ghost-Note is a rottweiler on steroids.
With two sax/flute players, Sylvester Onyejiaka and Jonathan Mones, percussionist Robert Searight, drummer Nate Werth, bass player Dwayne Thomas Jr (dressed in a luminous orange jumpsuit), two keyboard players Xavier Taplin and Vaughn Henry, and lead guitarist Peter Knudsen, we were treated to one of the best shows in Wellington in many a year.
With world-class musicians who have played with Prince, Toto, Herbie Hancock, Justin Timberlake, and countless others, you know you are watching music royalty.
Ghost-Note started as they meant to go on; with a rhythmic groove that makes it impossible to sit still, each number drenched in funk from a band truly in sync with each other.
With so much music to contend with, I’m loath to class them simply as a funk band. There were echoes of dub reggae (all that was missing was the waft of some ganja), Earth, Wind & Fire (my favourite part), a James Brown-inspired encore, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Afrobeat, Herbie Mann, the timbales of Tito Puente, George Clinton, and even a reference to Average White Band’s Pick up the Pieces. Best you just call them world-music ambassadors.
Everybody would have a section they liked most. Mine was the interplay on six different keyboards. Or was it eight? But choosing that would take away the drive between bass and drum and percussion. Others would fancy the sax and flute partners or the funky guitar licks.
Now, go out and purchase their two albums and share them with friends who missed this wonderful show.