MGF Reviews Naturally 7 – Live at Montreux 2007 [DVD]

Naturally 7 – Live at Montreux 2007 [DVD]
Eagle Rock Entertainment (3/4/08)
88 minutes

Our friends at Kayos Productions passed along an advance copy of Naturally 7’s Live at Montreux DVD release to Machine Gun Funk. And, even though I write for a music site, I can’t say I’d heard too much about the septet comprising Marcus Davis, Warren Thomas, Dwight Stewart, Roderick Eldridge, Roger Thomas, Garfield Buckley and Jamal Reed.

Now, after three complete viewings of the DVD, I can’t wait to hear more.

It’s easy to get caught up in press releases that praise an act with words like “astounding” and “mystifying”, but, hyperbole be damned… these are accurate adjectives.

Filmed during Switzerland’s annual Montreux Jazz Festival, Naturally 7 took the stage without instruments or accompaniment. I’m old enough to remember the mouth-gimmickry of Bobby McFerrin and the Black guy from Police Academy not named Bubba Smith, so I was admittedly skeptical.

But, from the first “guitar” notes of “Fly Baby”, I was on board. Their style can only be described as a fusion of elements from hip hop, jazz, soul, rhythm & blues and anything else that might flow from their minds to their mouths.

This DVD includes their 10-song set from Montreux and, at the risk of setting back race relations a few hundred years, I was floored at how this crew had an almost exclusively white, foreign crowd eating out of their hands and actually participating at times. Most concert DVDs make the inexplicable mistake of not mic-ing the crowd, but it’s clear these Frenchies are feeling them.

Really, I’m trying not to oversell this, but these guys actually make Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings” sound listenable again. And, after Tupac’s remains ruined it on that “Until the End of Time” track, I never thought I’d like it again. Naturally 7 also covers some Phil Collins and Simon & Garfunkel, but don’t be fooled—there’s originality aplenty to be had here.

They get all anthemic on “Can Ya Feel It?”, switch over to romantic on “Say You Love Me” and finish with flourish on their encore. This is an absolutely exhilarating audio experience for anyone in search of something—anything—apart from the everyday radio playlist.