Little did I know that this was to be the last musical event I was to see before lockdown. If I had, I would have joined in the conga line that was snaking cheekily through the aisle. Imagine being that close to people! 78 year old Pee Wee Ellis, hosting with China Moses, said that he had come to ‘funk’ us. Well, there was no better man for the job. The saxophonist taught by Sonny Rollins co-wrote hits such as Cold Sweat with James Brown and became band leader and musical director of the James Brown Revue.
What Pee Wee Ellis lacked in words, he made up for in effortless sax in songs such as Stevie Wonder’s ‘You Can Feel it All Over’ where he played the melody. The evening explored the history of funk music, in no particular order, and the set structure was as baggy as the basslines.
This provided a relaxed atmosphere and there was no need for seating once this band of top class musicians got going. Solos and accompaniment were provided by Dennis Rollins MBE on trombone and Camilla George, a rising star of the UK jazz scene, on saxophone. There was also Tony Remy on guitar, Neville Malcolm on bass and Daru Jones on drums. They had not played together before this unique project which was produced by Sound Uk.
Vivacious singer, China Moses, brought on some special guests such as Hip Hop artist, Lady Sanity, who sang ‘I know You Got Soul’ by Eric B and Rakim. Omar Lye-Fook MBE also came on to do justice to Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstitious’, ‘Cold Sweat’and a great rendition of ‘Girls and Boys’ by Prince. Dancers from The Locksmiths Dance Company joined, but something to do with their energy and dress did not fit the stage and I found them distracting. The event was a special treat for funk lovers and it was an honour to be in the presence of world-class musicians who are part of musical history itself.