Jonathan Powell and Nu Sangha
Palladium Theatre, St Petersburg, FL • November 27th, 2015
by Bob Pomeroy
I decided to avoid the Black Friday mayhem this year and check out the return of the Powell brothers. I remember seeing Jonathan and his brother Jeremy playing in various Tampa area bands before they made their move to New York City. The brothers returned for the holidays to be with family and debut their latest record, Beacons of Light at the Palladium Theatre.
The version of Nu Sangha that played St. Petersburg consisted of the Powell’s with local stalwarts, Larue Nicholson on guitar, Ian Goodman on drums and Patrick Van dam on bass. The set opened with Freddie Hubbard-inspired tune that felt more like a frame for the band members solos than a real song. It’s a common thing when you’re playing with a pick-up band, but things got better very quickly. The composition “Chant”, found the group coming together with a spiritual meditation. It brought to mind the meditative quality of Dave Holland’s Conference of the Birds. “Sufi” really showed Nu Sangha working as a unit with the solos moving the story forward.
The ensemble transcended expectations when Yumi Koshigai Powell came on stage. Yumi is Jonathan’s wife and a tap dancer. On a tune inspired by a Cuban bolero, the band evoked late night in old Havana. The sound of the taps gave the impression of a Flamenco dancer on her last legs around closing time. It sounds like an odd combination, but it really worked. On the show closer, ‘Las Gatos”, Yumi’s dancing provided the opening melodic solo before the horns came in. Later in the tune, tap and trumpet play off each other like any other instruments in the group. Yumi isn’t on any of the Nu Sangha records yet. I hope that changes soon.
Seeing Jonathan and Jeremy Powell’s homecoming was definitely a better way to spend Black Friday that battling the malls. It is great seeing local musicians making good.