DAKOTA JAZZ CLUB
NOVEMBER 2, 2017
All content by: Patrick Dunn
I am a longtime fan of great singers and vocal harmony. My appreciation for this exceptional talent primarily grew during the 80’s and 90’s when I was listening to a lot of R&B. Shows with material covering this period have become hard to find, so I was thrilled when Kenny Lattimore’s name appeared on the Dakota Jazz Club’s calendar.
“Tonight is the first time Kenny Lattimore’s ever been here - we are long, long, long overdue …”, announced the Dakota’s Lowell Pickett. With that, the laid back groove of “Love Me Back” felt like the perfect selection to ease into Lattimore’s second show (7:00pm & 9:00pm) on November 9th. The seasoned entertainer came off as fully engaged in the performance and communicated a vibe that was confident, sexy and fun. “Oh, I feel loved tonight. This is my first time here, so I’ve got to take you back to the beginning.” The old school “Never Too Busy” was perfect for that considering it is the song that kicked off his solo career. Lattimore also got his dance on as he interacted with the band and worked his way up to some nice falsetto moments.
He really did an excellent job communicating with all parts of the room using a “Storytellers” style approach between songs. “I’m very happy to be here. This is a wonderful musical city. I can see that this is a sophisticated audience so it’s going to allow us to take you on a journey of a different kind tonight.” Lattimore went the extra mile to personalize his show to our city by taking time to recognize Latricia, who he praised for her work with Minneapolis Parks, and he dedicated “You’re My Girl” to contest winner Myriam in thanks for spreading the word about his new album. “I want you to hear a little bit of the new album. You know sometimes people take the whole show to play new material and people are like - dang, I wanted to hear my song. I don’t want to do that.” So Lattimore only played a portion of the title track “Vulnerable”. The material felt fresh and he was clearly feeling the Caribbean groove, so I don’t think anyone would have had issue with hearing the full track.
“I would like to give tribute to somebody that tremendously influenced my musical career …” was a tasteful lead-in to Luther Vandross’s “So Amazing” and “Wait for Love”. There was a shift to upbeat on “Climb the Mountains” that also contained a jazzy breakdown led by Lattimore’s impressive vocal horn emulation showing yet another dimension to his instrument.
Totally shifting gears with two American Songbook classics, “Fly Me to the Moon” and “The Very Thought of You” was an unexpected surprise that allowed this artist a platform to share some details about his music education. I learned that the classically trained singer began voice lessons at just 12 years old and eventually became the Maryland Distinguished Scholar, which solidified a career in music. His brilliance as a singer was revealed best during the post piano-solo build to the conclusion of “The Very Thought of You” – an absolute standout moment and my favorite part of the evening.
Heading back toward music of the modern day, Lattimore made a pit stop in the 70’s with Norman Connors “You Are My Starship” by simply stating, “This is how radio sounded growing up in D.C.” Last, but certainly not least, he reserved his best known hit “For You” to close the set. Lattimore summed up everything we’d seen along the way into this one song, making it the prettiest and most dynamic of the show. For his encore, he belted out snippets of audience requested songs before eventually closing with “Weekend”, which morphed into Michael Jackson’s “Rock with You” and Maxwell’s “Ascension”.
Love Me Back
Never Too Busy
You're My Girl
Wait for Love
Stay on Your Mind
Climb the Mountains
Fly Me to the Moon
The Very Thought of You
You Are My Starship