Janelle Monáe was a major highlight of live music in Ottawa this summer at the Jazz Festival. The supergroup was comprised of a full band including strings and backup singers. Their style was very symbolistic of 60's meets metropolis. Maybe it was a futuristic sci-fi version of the 1960's as their theme was very much inspired from Metropolis and other droid movies.
"If you see your neighbour jamming harder than you, covet his or her jam".
Right away the energy was over the top bar that is set by some of the best acts out there. That feel came streaming in early on as her guitarist, Kellindo Parker, seemed to be channelling Prince with not only licks but some serious guitar faces and poses. Only 3 or 4 songs in, people were on their feet and they launched into a cover of Take Me With You - Prince and the Revolution. A few more numbers and it was Janelle's turn to channel another legend, little Michael Jackson from the 60's with another cover which hit a few high notes with I Want You Back - The Jackson Five.
A small discussion occurred when a few of us recognized notes from James Bond themes...and of course it was a very epic medley of James Bond film title songs. You Only Live Twice, Goldfinger, of course the tiny bit of hope for Live and Let Die wasn't acknowledged. Janelle also began painting on a canvas (while singing and dancing) what first looked like a vagina, but it ended up being a little tamer as it turned out to be an ass or booty. Not sure if there's a difference. One just sounds cooler.
Their performance had every lawnchair forgotten by the end. If anyone was still sitting, it was because they may have had no legs. Janelle's "The Ten Droid Commandments" were being handed out in the form of flyers, also promoting The Archandroid. One important commandment that sets the stage "If you see your neighbour jamming harder than you, covet his or her jam".
Over at the OLG latenight stage, Slim Moore and the Mar-Kays were supported by Adam and the Amethysts. After experiencing the high-energy funk and soul at the Confederation Stage, the Amethyst duo mellowed out the instilled metronome since there was no rhythm section. However, Slim Moore and the Mar-Kays were up next for a late night dance party.
All of the horns were made up of members from Souljazz Orchestra who are set to play at the Ottawa Bluesfest next month. Slim was thick with soul as well, and was a very great way to get the energy back from the Janelle Monáe set. The Canadian act is playing again in Ottawa at the Mercury Lounge on July 26.
While this video was not captured at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, it does offer a glimpse as to what went down there last night.