by Rachel Swan
Not only is Rahsaan Patterson the undisputed champion of the crazy-ass R&B bridge, the funky breakdown, and the Michael Jackson wail (Yes, yes, that hee-hee), he's also a consummate bandleader with an amazing band. Bassist Eric Smith (famous both for being Rihanna's music director, and for holding court in Oakland blues-rock band Legally Blynd), backup singer Trina Broussard, and keyboardist Kenneth Crouch are all stars in their own right. Their Thursday night show at San Francisco Yoshi's (kicking off a run that ends Sunday) opened with Patterson's "Oh Lord: Take Me Back," a Sly Stone-ish number with prominent organ and Gospel harmonies. With the combination of two sensitive background singers, a four-man rhythm section comprising some of the best instrumentalists in the R&B circuit, and Patterson's theatrics (His breakdowns included lines like, "My heart is beating repetitiously for you" (from a lyric in "The One for Me"), "I have a tendency to get lost and lengthy" and even the obvious: "As you can see, I like to break it down."), this group had all the wallop of an A-list rock band.
The group played cuts from Patterson's entire oeuvre dating back to 1997 including last year's "Feels Good," in an arrangement similar to the album version, except the chorus harmonies sounded a little more textured. Patterson also did a fierce cover of Sade's "Love Is Stronger Than Pride." The highlights, above all, were Crouch's two organ solos he played a real Hammond B3 and used the spaces between notes in much the same way as famed pianist Ahmad Jamal and Patterson's stage presence. Not only is he a singer of incredible depth and range, he's also an animated balladeer. Whilst singing, Patterson would pantomime the guitar parts, raise his head to the ceiling, issue commands to his back-up ("Take it to a whisper, please") and even look askance and the askance look is hard to pull off while your singing into a microphone. But overall, he was killing; my only criticism was that the band needed a little more bottom (Smith might have had a cramp that night, because you could see him rubbing his wrist between songs) and that Broussard could have been in the spotlight a little more. But man, that gig was well worth the price of admission. Tonight's show is most likely sold out, but you might still snag a ticket for Sunday. Yoshis.com
Rahsaan Patterson's music video for "Feels Good":