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Review: Spoleto Festival USA 2014

The divas dominate in South Carolina

Charenee Wade at the 2014 Spoleto Festival USA
Aca Seca Trio at the 2014 Spoleto Festival USA

Another eclectic international jazz lineup graced the city of Charleston, S.C., May 23-June 8 at the 38th annual Spoleto Festival USA. Two of the festival’s traditional venues hosted the concerts, the outdoor Cistern Yard and the indoor Simons Center Recital Hall, plus another College of Charleston facility, the handsomely converted TD Arena, which has been subbing for the big headliners’ concerts for the past two years while the Gaillard Performance Hall undergoes a radical makeover.

Attractions from South America, Europe and America converged on Spoleto, mustered by Wells Fargo jazz director Michael Grofsorean with his customary virtuosity. After her fine outing early this spring at the Savannah Music Festival, my anticipation was especially keen for Charenée Wade’s booking at the Cistern. The set that Wade had sung in Savannah, paired with Catherine Russell, was strictly themed as a blues survey, though “Ladies Sing the Blues” skewed more toward the raunchy than the broken-hearted.

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