Tuesday, October 2, 1984
The Michigan Daily
Lincoln thrills at the Ballroom
By Marc S. Taras
FROM THE moment that Abbey
Lincoln opened her first set with
beautiful ballad "You're My Thrill,"
the air was crackling with energy.
' Abbey Lincoln opened her heart each
time she opened her mouth and the
messsage was received as it was
delivered; loud and clear and with love
and respect. Saturday night at the
,M ichigan Union Ballroom Aminata
Moseka thrilled us all.
The concert had been rescheduled for
the ballroom after current politics has
,-denied Eclipse Jazz the use of the
acoustically superior U-Club. The
' engineers were having a field day
trying to compensate for th wide and
tall room during the opening set from
Kathy Moore and Stephanie Ozer.
Unfortunately the sound detracted
:from an otherwise solid performance
from the tres bien local duo who added
bassist Bruce Dondero to Saturday's
There was some grumbling and ap-
prehension as the crowd waited out the
intermission anxious to hear from Ab-
Abbey's voice was deep and rich. It is
old as antiquity, yet vibrant with
youth's immediacy. Her presence was
felt throughout the room. Felt and
recognized inside us.
Abbey brought more magic in her
fellow musicians as well. The group is
anchored by two talented brothers;
Billy Johnson on bass, and his brother
Mark on drums. Along with pianist
James Weidman they, displayed an
almost telepathic communion of intent
with their vocalist/leader as well as
with each other.
For "You're My Thrill," the first
choruses were slow and breathy. Ab-
bey's golden shower-song steeped in
Unlike many vocalists who prefer
having 'sidemen' who know how to 'lay
back' Abbey Lincoln enjoys having the
music all around her. That's just what
we heard Saturday night. As the band
launched into the African rhythms of
Abbey's piece, "The River" we were
swimming at once in a river of rhythm,
winding along a current of sound.
We were treated to Abbey Lincoln's
wisdoms and social music as well. She
says, "Everything I sing deals with
some kind of freedom. Mostly it's
freedom of the spirit." This was evident
Saturday night. Her beautiful com-
position "Throw It Away" has her
reminder that "you can never lose a
thing if it belongs to you" and the en-
couragement to "keep your hands wide
open if there's anything you need."
'In conversation with Abbey Lincoln
between sets I found her to be very
warm and readily accessible. I
suggested that the liberating effect of
her music seems to be in the power of
her articulation - the incantation -
rather than the originality of the con-
cepts. She nodded and smiled with dark
eyes flashing and said, "There's
nothing new under the sun!"
Abbey is tall and regal and seemed
like an African queen dressed all in
deer-colored brown, with soft kid boots,
and gold-wire earrings in the shape of
She is remarkably aware of her an-
cestry, both literally and musically.
African flair abounds, and her loving
attention to such pieces as Duke
Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" were
She is conscious of the current
musical milieu as well and enjoys the
songwriting of Steve Wonder. She made
a beautiful offering of Stevie's sensitive
ballad "You and I." Noting that it was
an election year she offered the caustic
classic "Mendacity." Biting at the
lyrics, she showed us another way that
there is nothing new under the sun.
The highlight of the evening came
during the second set in as rare a
demonstration of shape-changing as
you'll ever see this side of a Lon Chaney
And much more beautiful and in-
It began calmly enough as Abbey en-
tered into her song "Caged Bird." In
this commentary on art, the artist and
the liberation of both, Abbey Lincoln
assures us, "I know why the caged bird
sings." As the song left its nest and
began to take flight the miracle oc-
curred. The woman began screeching
and squawking, flapping her arms,
wings, and suddenly - was woman no
Beautiful brown bird soaring about
the ballroom singing glory songs of
ebon strength and inspiration.
A holy thing; we stood in wonder to
see. A further marvel as the band was
pulled by the vigor of the magic voicing
spell - and was band no more.
The piano now chirping along the
winds, the bass fluttering in African
skies, the drums and cymbals echoing
mystical bird songs.
Another earth brought before our
eyes. Simple. Unity. Spirit.
'-llyrn"o"rby MATT PETR
Abbey Lincoln brings her warm and exciting technique to the Union
5 0~ UNION
'tlrcu iind Pkcnr L.
. . .or now
A flock of Seagulls is a difficult
thing to catch.
About a month ago, these birds
put the word out that they would
be coming to the Michigan
Theater on October 5. So Flock
fans went out in droves to grab a
place in the ticket lines.
Then a few weeks ago, A Flock
decided that Ann Arbor would be
more fun on October 12 - so the
date was changed.
They changed it again. Tickets
for whenever will be honored for
the new date. It's October 16 at
the Michigan. Try to fly by.
v1CJUI iu 1 ivvt
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