Live 20th Anniversary Tour
2015 / BCM Entertainment
Disc I: 54 mins
Disc II: 39 mins
Review by Michael Debbage
Last year Culbertson paid patronage to his debut album Long Night Out by re-recording it and entitling it Another Long Night Out. For those of us that missed it first time around we had the privilege of being time warped and brought “back to the future” courtesy of today’s technology. Apparently Culbertson is still in a reflective mood but this time around courtesy of a live recording simply entitled Live 20th Anniversary Tour. The retrospective mood was recorded late last year over four nights of concerts in Oakland and gives a super tight live performance with Culbertson surrounded by a solid cast of band members.
While Culbertson’s music is clearly in the spotlight he has no hesitation in allowing his band to participate in a very active way. With several of the musicians capable of adding vocals to their instrumental repertoire the main focal point beyond Culbertson are the horns. Very early on in the recording his roots and influences are felt with a cover of Kool & The Gang’s “Hollywood Swinging” and later on a cover of Earth Wind & Fire’s progressive “Serpentine Fire”. Otherwise, his past recordings are given a clear boost as he plays in front of an energetic audience.
As for Culbertson’s own composition check on the more reflective yet still soaring “Beautiful Liar” that was originally recorded on his debut. His piano work is hauntingly stunning only further accentuated by Adam Hawley’s equally inspiring guitar work. This performance is followed up by the frantic toe tapping “Get It On” that allows us to really see the entire band spread their wings on this eight minute plus routine. As for something in between skip to the opening song on disc 2 as you find an abundance of optimism on the highly melodic “Think Free” that was co written with EWF’s former member Sheldon Reynolds.
The concert portion of the recording essential closes out of with the outrageously foot stomping “Funkin” Like My Father” and simply brings down the house merging effortlessly into the “City Lights Outro”. Culbertson then takes the time to bring our pulse back to normal with the slower but no less dramatic live recordings of “Our Love” and the bonus track “Forever”.
While Brian Culbertson’s music is essentially attributed to the Smooth Jazz genre this well produced live recording reflects that such stereo typing maybe limiting in how his music should be viewed. Being the first truly live concert recording of his already impressive career, Live 20th Anniversary Tour clearly reflects that Culbertson is equally comfortable in the R&B and funk genres that only make him a truly unique and energetic more than just Smooth Jazz operator.
May 11, 2015