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Lizz Wright: Holding Space– Live in Berlin

Rating: 4/5 Stars

By Peter Quinn for Jazzwise Magazine

When, during the pandemic, Lizz Wright found the time to listen back to some previous live dates, she was particularly struck by a show recorded in Berlin, the final date of her 2018 European summer tour. Produced by Christian Ulbrich and the first album to be released on Wright’s own label, Blues & Greens Records, Holding Space features Wright and her exceptional band – Chris Bruce (guitar), Bobby Ray Sparks II (keys), Ben Zwerin (bass), Ivan Edwards (drums) – performing 11 songs from that Berlin date. Six are taken from Wright’s most recent studio album, Grace (2017), including the deeply moving Rose Cousins-penned title track, the warm embrace of her original co-write with Maia Sharp ‘All The Way Here’, plus the great song of belonging, ‘Seems I’m Never Tired Loving You’, penned by Aretha Franklin’s sister, Carolyn. We’re also treated to a brace of songs from Wright’s 2015 album Freedom & Surrender – the spirited country blues ‘The New Game’ and the sudden, ecstatic outbursts of ‘Somewhere Down The Mystic’ – the sublime traditional gospel song ‘Walk With Me Lord’ from her 2003 Verve debut Salt, and the incredibly powerful ‘No More Will I Run’ written by Wright’s great friend, the brilliant Toshi Reagon. With stunning recorded sound, a wonderfully attentive audience, and an irresistible communion between singer and band, it’s the most transporting and beautiful album I’ve heard this year.