Rising like a resplendent phoenix from the ashes, the sultry, sassy and vocally surprising Phyllis Hyman entertained a sold-out audience on her second outing during a two-night stand at the Wiltern Theatre.
Hyman opened with “When You Get Right Down to It” from her latest release on Zoo-distributed Philadelphia International Records, “Prime of My Life.”
As she strutted back and forth across the stage, Hyman — in her best Eartha Kitt-like purr — stroked the notes as she made the song completely her own.
Other cuts from her “Prime” release included “Meet Me on the Moon,” a romantic and sensual ballad that contrasted neatly with the exuberant and energetic sax playing of Ray Gaskins; and the hip-hop-tinged, “Don’t Want to Change the World.”
Hyman’s deft vocal talents particularly shone on “I Don’t Want to Be Here All Alone,” during which she used her ability to whistle, much like Bobby McFerrin. The crowd responded with a standing ovation.
Hyman’s set also included a 20-minute medley of past hits such as “Somewhere in My Lifetime,””You Know How to Love Me,””Betcha By Golly Wow” and “I Don’t Want to Lose You.”
Opener George Howard artfully performed “Modern Love” and “Just the Way I Feel” among other cuts from his latest GRP release, “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?” But Howard’s piece de resistance and the highlight of his set was his masterful cover of the Miles Davis tune “Jo Jo.”
On “Baby Come to Me,” pianist Freddy Ravell’s improvisation during a duet with Howard became so electrified that he tossed the sheet music into the air.
Bethel A.M.E.’s choir provided an earnest but lackluster short set at the top of the evening and comic relief was provided by special guest comedian Karen Addison, whose raunchy repartee belied her perky demeanor.