Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

POP MUSIC REVIEW

Hayes Shows Style Beyond Doing Just His Funky Thing

August 20, 1996|CHEO HODARI COKER

Isaac Hayes, jazz singer?

"My Funny Valentine" probably isn't one of the songs the near-capacity crowd at the Universal Amphitheatre on Sunday associated with Hayes when they came out for this rare live performance by the Grammy- and Oscar-winning symphonic funk innovator.

But Hayes had more than a few tricks up his sleeve as he ran through that torch singer's anthem. His grumbling yet soothing baritone welled with genuine emotion across the breadth of his range, and he wasn't afraid to dismiss his band and sing with the barest piano accompaniment just to prove a musical point.

As he riffed, Hayes demonstrated that his multifaceted approach to funk was similar in scope to Duke Ellington's conception of big-band jazz. This point was accentuated by Hayes' masterful remakes of staid pop-radio standards such as Dionne Warwick's "Walk On By" and Sting's "Fragile," transforming them into hot-buttered groove-mobiles.

Wearing his 12-piece band like a glove, Hayes--whose set followed hearty performances by Billy Preston, the Emotions and the Brothers Johnson--expanded the pop arrangements into 20-minute epics whose themes encompassed everything from love to ecology. Younger soul fans on hand were made to realize that R&B is more than just glimmering samples of songs whose time and ideas burned out long ago. In the hands of a master it can contain whole universes.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|