The house lights are low. A super-cool Jazz Quartet, featuring John Reeves on piano, Paul Armstrong on trumpet and flugelhorn, Andrew Shaw on bass and Sacha Kloostra on drums, is set and ready to play.
And then they are joined on stage by two local Jazz luminaries; Ms Ingrid James and Ms Toni Zaffa.
Welcome to the Brisbane Jazz Club, in residence at the Queensland Russian Community Centre in Woolloongabba, for Lush Lives – Songs From Women Who Made A Difference.
Together, these six skilled musicians are here to lead us through an enchanting exploration of the songs and the stories of the great Queens of Jazz; honouring the legacy of those female performers who have most inspired, informed and influenced Ingrid and Toni, in their own stellar local, national and international careers.
And oh, what a journey the night turns out to be.
They are all there. The very greats, including Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McCrae, Blossom Dearie, Nancy Wilson, Dinah Shore, Billie Holiday and Etta James. There are lesser known, but no lesser talents, such as Ernestine Anderson, Irma Thomas and Tierney Sutton. And, adding a touch of local colour, there are Aussies, Renee Geyer and the late Janet Seidel.
With a comprehensive set-list, shared in alternating solos and regularly interspersed, beautifully harmonised duets, the two multi-award-winning performers glide through a vibrant and colourful night of vocal Jazz lover’s history. And in so doing, their distinctly different, individual styles and interpretative approaches, are at the same time, complementary, contrasting and totally engaging.
Ingrid’s songs are delivered with her trademark perfect pitch and intonation. And as always, her unique, very personal improvisational style, challenges her audience; inviting us to explore new musical territory, beyond a traditional expectation of each familiar composition.
In contrast, Toni’s big, soulful and bluesy voice and delivery stay a little closer to home, touching us all with her sensitive nuancing and sharing of each joyful/painful episode of love and loss.
And in duet, two beautiful voices, brushed with a touch of magic, combine and resonate in sweet harmony; delivering a memorable performance, in which the total is so much greater than the sum of the parts.
A memorable performance indeed!!
Brisbane Jazz Club