The day I popped Who Is Jill Scott into my CD player, I instantly became a fan of not only Jill Scott’s music, but the woman as well.
I’m the kind of fan that’s seen her in concert no less than 15 times since 2001 (on a few occasions, I saw her twice in the same year; hell in 2008, it was three times!).
I battle between her and Erykah Badu being my number one artist of all time (Erykah usually wins though since I’ve been down with E. Badu longer).
When Jill dropped her fifth studio project, Woman, in July of last year, I did what I always do – bought it the day it came out. I was in Omaha, Nebraska for a family picnic (love a good road trip), and immediately popped it into my car’s CD player.
And I immediately was not feeling it, which was strange because, up to this point, I consistently fell in instant love with every prior studio release. At first listen, I kept saying, “Where is Jill going with this one??”
I did not, however, give up on Woman. I kept listening, waiting for that “ah ha, this is a great CD” moment.
A year later, I not only love this album, I almost feel like a few of the songs are about my own personal experiences.
I’m digressing a bit, because this blog’s focus is her show on Friday (July 22) at the Mountain View Winery in Saratoga, but the digression is necessary because I only went to the show because of Woman. I needed to hear Jill put her spin on these songs the only way I already she can. Plus, I knew a good portion of the show would feature songs from her latest project.
As usual, I had my “wish” songs for her set list (they included Prepared, Closure, Cruisin’ and Back Together, which are all on Woman). I also wished for Shame (from The Light of the Sun), because that is my second favorite Jill song (A Long Walk remains the one Jill song I can listen to 1,000 times and never tire of, but she always – and I do mean always – sings this song at every show).
She did not sing any of my “wish” songs – and I could be bummed – but the set list for this show far exceeded my desires.
On my (very long) drive to the Mountain View Winery, I of course, had all of Jill’s songs randomly playing from my iPod. Because Jill now has five studio albums (plus two live albums, a collaborations album and those other joints Hidden Beach keeps releasing even though they cut ties in 2010), I sometimes forget just how many great songs there are to choose from.
Like the entire Who is Jill Scott and The Light of the Sun albums. I single those out because the former is her first (and most definitely a classic), while the latter has become the one I listen to most (although The Real Thing still ranks high for me as well).
I even had a fleeting thought that it would be great if she did most of Who Is Jill Scott because not only is that the album that introduced us to a woman with a vast vocal range, but it’s the one album I continually go to back to and think, “This is the shit.”
Well, that’s essentially what happened at the Mountain View Winery.
Opening with Coming to You (from Woman) Jill set the evening’s tone immediately. “Good evening beautiful people,” she said, “Tonight, we came to bring you love! And we came to bring you music.”
Jill and her band did just that, and so much more. They brought funk; they brought jazz; they brought opera and salsa. Hell, they damn near brought any genre of music that comes to mind!
Wearing a long flowing printed top, blue pants and braids piled high on top of her head, Jill went nonstop as she took us there with her opera vocal abilities during He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat); that carried over into Golden, but then the band switched it up Go-go style. Forever the actress, she pretended to pull money out of her bra as she sang, “Do you want some money baby? How about some chicken wings?”
Honey/Molasses (a story of longing for “the one” to call), ended with her saying, “If you mix honey and barbecue sauce, you alright with me,” which set up the transition to a totally funky version of The Way, “Cause I like to mix things up. You understand? Sometimes you gotta come soft, and sometimes you gotta come hard.”
The flow of one song into the next was seamless and smooth.
As the notes of The Real Thing emanated from the speakers, Jill spoke to the “… queens in the house tonight.”
“Sometimes, they will try you, but they will find out you are really a queen in action. Play this song and lip sync, okay?”
I’m doing that the next time someone tries me or attempts to disrespect my queendom.
There was the jazzy Fool’s Gold; and I damn near lost my mind when Slowly Surely started. This is one of those go-to songs for me when my mood needs uplifting. Dancing while the percussionist played, Jill continually repeated, “I’m gonna love myself, just a little bit more than the day before.” (I’m claiming this as my new anthem).
“Every day, every way. You got to own it. That’s you … you marvelous you. There’s no other body – I don’t even care if you’re twins; it doesn’t make a difference. There’s nobody else on the planet like you. … you’re already a miracle, baby.”
You have to really know Jill’s music to catch the blending of Crown Royal into Making You Wait. It was so slick, I almost missed it!
At this point, I need to jump to the show’s end because I literally could go on for 500 more words describing the Spanish vibe she put on One Is the Magic Number and It’s Love, (“I told you I came to bring you music!! There is no auto tune in the building ladies and gentleman. There’s no DJ playing the track from behind,”); the “fuck ‘em” (her words) of Hate On Me (“Now just in case you don’t know what’s about to happen, if it hasn’t happened already, when you claim yourself, people get they feelings hurt. They get all mad and upset like, ‘Why is she always happy and shit. I wish she would sit down somewhere, humming and singing through the office.’
“Shut up. Somebody’s going to be pissed off as you glow and shine as you’re meant to. They so busy and upset about your blessings that they forget about they own. Child, you need to count them. … so if somebody is upset about that, I say ‘fuck ‘em.’ ”), and the explanation she gave for the meaning of Jahraymecofasola, (that would be another 300 words. Let’s just say it came to her and overall “God is king to me”).
The last song was the one song I neglected to mention was on my wish list. Show Me (one of the last songs on Who is Jill Scott), is one of those songs that’s been on my set wish list since seeing Jill in 2001, so when I heard the notes begin, I became so excited that I said (quite loudly), “This is my shit!”
As this was the finale, the four minute and 12 second song turned into a 15-minute version because of the band introductions.
And about that band. One of the things I love most about Jill’s band are her backup singers. Their voices are magnificent, but you can’t ignore their dance routines. “The Pipes” as they are so aptly called, are a show unto themselves. Actually the entire band is utterly ridiculous. (Click here to watch the band introductions).
If you lost track, the number of songs performed from Who Is Jill Scott is eight, so essentially, she went back to her roots, while reminding us that Woman is where she currently resides.
I started this blog saying I’ve seen Jill live at least 15 times (and actually met her, twice), and I am absolute when I say this is the best Jill Scott show I have ever been to.
I’m tempted to travel for another show just so I can experience the words and sounds of Miss (make that Mrs.) Jill Scott again, and relive all the moments I just described. Because when an artist brings you good music, you want to experience that again and again!
Setlist: Coming To You, He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat), Golden, Whatever, Honey Molasses, The Way, The Real Thing, Fool’s Gold, Slowly Surely, Making You Wait, Crown Royal, One is the Magic #, It’s love, Hate On Me, Jahraymecofasola, Can’t Wait, A Long Walk, Say Thank You, Show Me