Material: If you’re a fan of Seal you may enjoy the work of Gussie Miller, who has been a backup vocalist for the artist in the past. What you are getting here is all original, self-categorized as neo-soul and performed by top-of-the-line world-class players with impressive resumes. Band members have worked with the likes of Mindi Abair, Chaka Khan and Tower of Power. Funk guitar rhythms from Gore commence the show right off the bat on “What More Can I Say?” The lyrics range from playful love songs like “When Your Eyes Met Mine” to deeper reflections like “Life Lessons.”
Related: New Music Critiques: Gussie Miller
Musicianship: There isn’t much to critique when you have a collaboration of musicians of this caliber. That said, the musicians had to face the same issues in a live setting and that was no exception for Keller, who struggled with the sound man at times, and Rivera, who seemed to be buried in the overall mix.
Despite this the band was able to coordinate their dynamics flawlessly, coming down for individual solos and verses. Olling’s background in musical directing was apparent throughout the show as she stayed in constant communication with the group, rounding them in for perfect breaks and finales. Keller nailed his outro on “When Your Eyes Met Mine” while Livingston provided great support for Gore’s extensive solo on “The Arms Of Love.”
Performance: Miller gave it his all. At one point he paused for what he called a “James Brown moment” and wiped the perspiration from his brow. The band joined in on the fun banter, spontaneously incorporating tidbits from Madonna and Huey Lewis. “Wantin' You” featured special guest Etan G, aka The Jewish Rapper, who kept his part tight and succinct. Olling also joined in on vocals and continued to do so during “The Arms Of Love” along with Dickinson and Miller for lovely triple harmonies.
Summary: Gussie Miller can definitely hit the high notes. It may help with the pacing of the show to limit those peaks on fewer occasions, maybe saving just a few for the crescendo of the set. While Dickinson and Miller did sing to each other on “When Your Eyes Met Mine” there is potential for more theatrical interplay. Overall this is definitely a show to see!
The Players: Gussie Miller, lead vocals; Herman Matthews, drums; Jay Gore, guitar; Edwin Livingston, bass; Noriko Olling, keyboard; Dwight Rivera, keyboard; Laura Dickinson, backup vocals; Etan G., rapper; Rick Keller, saxophone.
Photo by Ray Izad-Mehr
Gussie Miller - "What More Can I Say?" feat. Cleto Escobedo II
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