Friday, July 15, 2011

Frankie Beverly and Maze in Brooklyn

A friend of hawgblawg sent in this account of a concert in Brooklyn on Monday, July 11.

“Golden Time of Day”

On Monday night, as the sun set, and a moonlight spread over Brooklyn, a humid evening was made cool and bearable by the voice of an R&B legend. Thousands turned out for the first show of the Martin Luther King concert series that has taken place in Brooklyn’s Wingate field for the past 29
years. The first concert showcased the veteran singer, Frankie Beverly and Maze, a group that has been around “oh, only 45 years,” as Beverly told the audience. Beverly opened the evening with “Southern Girl.” Dressed in white and sporting a white beret, his powerful, soulful voice resonated across the field -- and all of Flatbush it seemed. Middle-aged women danced along as he sang his hit singles, songs from their youth “We Are One,” “Can’t Get Over You,” “Running Away,” and “Happy Feelings.” Whether he was singing his smooth classics -- slow jams played on the “Quiet Storm” on WBLS (the radio station sponsoring the MLK concert series), or jamming on the keyboard, or hooping like a preacher, or jumping up and down with band members -- Beverly displayed an astonishing energy throughout the two-hour show. As he wiped sweat off his forehead with a towel, he bantered with the audience, “I’m sixty-five years old - I got a three-pack, or maybe a can, or something!”

Beverly’s group was formed in Philadelphia in 1970 – and was initially called Raw Soul. Beverly moved the group to the Bay Area in 1972, and there they were given the name Maze, by none other than Marvin Gaye. “We’re from Philadelphia, grew up with Patti Labelle and Harold Melville. We moved to Cali in 1972 because of Sly and the Family Stone,” explained the vocalist. “One night we were playing in a rinky dink club and Marvin Gaye was there.” Gaye booked Maze on his 1976 concert tour and helped them secure their first album deal with Capitol Records. “Marv took us in, gave us the name Maze. We’re inspired by Marv – he took our feet out off clay and put them on solid ground.” Over the last forty years, Beverly has had nine top ten hits and eight gold records – but no Grammy, a point the singer joked about on stage. “I get mad sometimes, but then I’ve learned that you can either have re-wards or a-wards. Some of you have been with us for over thirty five years, that is the biggest reward, our following.”

The band, also decked out in casual white outfits, was pitch-perfect. Vance Taylor on keyboards, Calvin Napper on drums, and Jubu Smith, on guitar who, as per usual, delivered a beautiful solo on “Golden Time of

Beverly closed the evening with a pulsating rendition of “Before I Let Go.”

Another magical night in Brooklyn.