Review by Natalie de Jager
Sunday Brunch had patrons lining up around the block to see Australia’s first lady of jazz, Emma Pask for her debut performance at the Brisbane Jazz club. She brings an intimate show of voice and piano – her regular accompanist, Kevin Hunt. Brisbane really turned out the weather with clear blues skies and the club was buzzing with excitement and anticipation.
Emma Pask was discovered at just 16 years old by legendary jazz musician, James Morrison, when he spontaneously invited her on stage to perform with his band, and then whisked her away on tour with him across the globe. For almost 20 years she toured with him, but now she stands as an independent solo artist continuing to play throughout Australia and overseas in her own right.
Emma commands the stage with ease as she scats through many of her fast swing numbers including Honeysuckle Rose – played at such a crazy tempo. She has become known as a singer unafraid of lightning fast songs. An audience favourite was Crickets Sing for Anamaria, the comedy song of the day, leaving us all to wonder how she managed to articulate all those lyrics at such a speed.
Throughout the show Emma takes us through the full range of jazz. She swings hard in the uptempo numbers such as The Way You Look Tonight and Tea for Two, belts out the bluesy Hard Hearted Hannah and croons with smooth velvet vocals in ballads such a Dream of Life.
The stand out tune for this reviewer was Emma’s balladic rendition of Here, There & Everywhere by The Beatles. Emma’s vocal tone beautifully matched the lyrics – so incredibly emotive is her gorgeous jazz interpretation of this song.
Emma weaves her life story through her music, telling may amusing tales. And while we are all here for her lovely jazz vocals, we love her chattiness and she makes the audience so comfortable in this intimate venue. Her engaging stage presence and infectious smile leave us feeling as though we are her friends. She is an incredibly authentic and generous performer.
Across the show, Emma’s beautiful vocals of such varied tunes captivated the audience, leaving us all longing for more; many taking her music home with them.
Natalie de Jager