Omar + QCBA: Live At Last

Warm, funky set has the soul singer accompanied by certified jazzmen Quentin Collins, Brandon Allen, Ross Stanley and James Maddren

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You get the sense that the “at last” part of this album title has been added with some sense of feeling by Ubuntu music. With the impact of the pandemic closing music venues and halting live performances, shows were cancelled, rebooked and cancelled again. Relief, then, that on 29 May 2021 Omar and QCBA finally got to perform at London’s Jazz Café in a socially distanced environment.

Despite this, the mood is upbeat, almost joyful, at the prospect that live music has returned. The QCBA quartet delivers a really tight, funky sound, with trumpet, sax, drums and the irresistible sound of the Hammond organ ably supporting soul maestro Omar throughout the set.

It’s occasionally like listening to the James Taylor Quartet supporting Seal. There are shades of soul, funk, blues and gospel woven into Omar’s material, along with Afro-Latin and bossa-nova rhythms to enjoy. It’s ideal, feelgood music to celebrate some sort of return to the new normal, and there is the sense that the audience is just delighted to be there.

Underpinning the atmosphere of the album, QCBA is clearly influenced by some of the Blue Note organ sounds of the 1960s, and Ross Stanley really does deserve a mention for standout work on Hammond across the entire album. The finale encore, Stop War, Make Love, has special resonance in these unsettling times.

Discography
Essensual; High Heels; Syleste; The Man; Ordinary Day; There’s Nothing Like This; Feeling You; Stop War; Make Love (51.27)
Omar (v, kyb); Quentin Collins (t); Brandon Allen (ts, f); Ross Stanley (org); James Maddren (d). Jazz Café, London, 29 May 2021.
Ubuntu UBU0100