Posted on 2013/07/28 18:42
  • Live Report
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Heading over to the Orange Court with a few minutes to spare before Jazzanova and Paul Randolph take to the stage, I am pleasantly surprised that a steady stream of fans is headed the same way.

Introduced by their tour manager, Jazzanova Live comes out first and starts the show with “Belle et Fou.” Then Paul Randolph in bright white and shades strolls out fashionably late, and plays bass to boot on “Look What You’re Doin’ To Me.”

Lyrics like “We all breathe in the same sun, we all sleep under the same stars at night” are more than appropriate for Fuji Rock campers this afternoon. And it is evident that this set will be heavy on tracks from their 2012 album the Funkhaus Studio Sessions. That said, there still remain plenty instances of jazz, R&B, disco, electro, and other cool genre redefining musical inclusions besides funk.

Next comes the funky “Let Me Show Ya,” and as often happens, you have to wonder if this crew is somehow harnessing the timeless voodoo magic of Motown. Paul does hail from Detroit, so the idea is not that far fetched.

Whatever the secret, it is completely contagious, and the Jazzanova unit is so incredibly tight. Perhaps that is because producers Stefan Leisering & Axel Reinemer with 15 years experience flank the live show playing congas and working the MacBook beats hold it all together.

At this point the rain is starting to come down, a good time to hear Paul sing “Dry your eyes don’t fret, you know better than that.” Between songs, “We aren’t going to let a little rain spoil our fun are we?” And regarding Fuji Rockers’ fashionable rain gear, “Good to see all these colors!”

The tenderness of Mr. Randolph on “No Use” (originally recorded before he joined the group with a female vocal hook) is to die for, almost too sweet like the most decadent chocolate cake. But he isn’t the only one with a chance to shine. Next comes the horn duet, sax and trombone, who crescendo ever so smooth and get a bit of electronic support from the laptop genius, though just enough, and then seamlessly blended, a sonic smoothie that tastes incredible.

The hit “I Human” gets rave response from a now sufficiently soaked crowd (though still sloshing around in the mud pools, mind you, nobody is leaving this set, that is for sure). Paul, who has been shuffling all over the stage gets a second wind, too, and disco fist pumps center stage, then busts out some other fancy footwork. It is such a good song, and to hear it live even better than the recorded version, with minimal pre-fab beats and live drums, the whole nine yards from all nine members gave me the shivers. If you haven’t yet, you WILL be hearing “I Human” in clubs and beyond for some time to come, bet me on that.

Unfortunately for the details of the show, at this point my notepad was soaked and my pen stopped writing, so I just had to put it in my pocket and freak out with everybody else up front. Just trust it was increasingly awesome.

Paul did get intimate at one point sitting down with legs playfully dangling in front of the stage, flirting with the fans and cameras, a huge smile on his face.

As if the show could get any better, and like it was scripted, the last song whose hook goes “Here Comes the Sun,” and with Paul giving his all whistle blowing, the horn section up front, and everybody cheering, the sky in fact started to brighten up, and while it kept sprinkling a bit, the sun did in fact show its face thereafter for the rest of the afternoon. Jazzanova’s set with Paul Randolph put the sun back up in the sky and in our hearts.

The fellows all took a well-earned bow at the end of the show. Sophisticated gentleman who brought some excellent music to the mountains, it was an honor to witness Jazzanova’s talent and hear their polished sound, a culmination of years of focus and hard work. Hope they make it back to Fuji Rock in the near future, and with a performance like that, next time it might even be for a headliner slot.