Getting back into the scene is invigorating, partly because it clarifies for me just how much I’ve missed being around live music. So, it was with some anticipation that I ventured out Friday night to see Imani Uzuri. I was expecting a band, since the show was billed as her with her Rock Quartet. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that she would be accompanied by guitarist Marvin Sewell, on electic-acoustic. If you have a chance to see Marvin perform, please do. He’s a quiet guy, but speaks loudest through his music. His deep Chicago blues roots inform everything he plays, even when he steps into more atmospheric territory.
Now, it’s been several years since I’d seen Imani, and I’d forgotten about her presence: A mix of southern earthiness, church-girl matter-of-factness, and new age spirituality, all of which is backed up by some serious pipes.
And I think the southern/church/spiritual aspect is key: Her songs are prayers. She provides a verse/chorus setup and then repeats with different colors and intonations. When they work best the songs become, in their own way, trancelike tonal meditations.
Rock quartet Red Lotus performed an semi-unplugged set. They work well together, from Rozz Nash’s liquid-warm vocals, Jean-Marx’s colorful guitar nuances and Aalics’ funky lock on the low end. I’m looking forward to hearing "Firecracker" fully plugged in and pouring out of a big stack of Marshalls.