Monday, November 20, 2006

Reggaebaby Jean Mclean hits top note

Jean Mclean (left) with Yaz Alexander.
Birmingham's very own Reggaebaby, Jean Mclean, last night put on a mightily impressive performance of lovers rock reggae rhythms, superbly backed by the Memphis band, a full brass section and backing singers, Rankin Bev and Anne-Marie. The Ipanema bar in the city centre provided the setting that attracted a good crowd for a promotion by John Morris' Nurvrax Productions. Following a vocal warm-up by Memphis brothers Earl and Keith Robinson, Jean Mclean opened up her initial half hour set of half a dozen of her own songs with her theme tune, I'm A Reggaebaby, from her album of the same name, followed by So In Love, Baby You, Stand Up, Boyfriend and Longtime. Self-assured and accomplished in her execution, Jean's voice was powerful and potent, her backing singers providing precise harmonies, and Alvin Davis (sax), Liz Ralls (trumpet) and Errol (trombone) adding an extra brass dimension that can never be substituted by keyboard wizardry.
For her second set, lasting just under an hour, Jean paid tribute to some of the reggae legends she most admires. Accompanied by Maurice Simpson on keyboards and Alvin Davis on sax, she began with Bob Marley's Waiting In Vain and was rejoined by the rest of the band (John Irish - guitar, Anthony Caines - bass, Victor Gift - drums) for Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly. For the first of two Dennis Brown numbers, she teamed up for a duet with Peter Spence, before songs penned by Marley and Eddy Grant were split by her own very catchy number, Goodbye. Joined briefly by Yaz Alexander for Living on the Frontline, Jean closed her set with a repeat of her theme song, I'm A Reggaebaby, to a well-deserved ovation. I urge everyone to catch the next Jean Mclean live performance - you'll be glad you did. In the meantime, to find out more, go to www.reggaebaby.com.

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