Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 28, 2009

Summer Groove

Talcott Mountain Music Festival, Simsbury Meadows, CT
Various events through July 17, 2009
by Eric Sutter

Summer Groove at the Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows was a rainbow full of sound. Under Edward Cumming's inspired direction, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra backed David Foster and the Mohegan Sun All Stars for a sizzling but soothing night of rhythm, blues and soul. With Foster's lead vocal out front, the All Stars' horn section set aflame "Powerful Stuff." It was wonderfully unexpected to hear their popular musical stylings with the strings of the orchestra, collaborating on the rock ballad "A Whiter Shade of Pale."

The band was pumped as it shifted into the R&B tune "What a Life" with its fancy sax lines. Guest vocalist Christine Ohlman paired up with Foster on a lively "Soul Shake" performed Delaney and Bonnie-style. Foster played the tender love ballad "You Are So Beautiful" with Mitch Chakour on piano and Maceo Parker, who soloed on saxaphone. Parker sang "Georgia" lovingly accompanied by piano and strings. The nine-piece band cranked up "Soul Man" as Foster and Parker traded lead vocals and hot horns all around.

At twilight, the band resumed with a touching tribute to Michael Jackson on "I'll Be There" with the audience joining in. Chakour's soulful rendition of "What's Going On" was puntuated by the horn section, as was "The Letter," replicating a Joe Cocker style. Billy Holloman's sax intro and vocal on "Stand By Me" were heavenly, accented by a melodic guitar solo by Kal David. Parker's "Pass The Peas" showcased his funky saxaphone playing that caused a stir with throngs of people who moved to the groove. Foster asked for participation on the closer... a Woodstock revival anthem. "With a Little Help from My Friends" became a communal sing and sway. Peace was back by popular demand.