Sunday morning. A typically gorgeous, mild, sunny, mid-winter’s day in Brisbane. You are at Kangaroo Point, ambling along the banks of the Brisbane River.
You slide under the Story Bridge and past the Holman Street ferry, to arrive at the colourful, Jazz-muralled wall of our newly renovated, riverside Brisbane Jazz Club.
Looking for nourishment, both musical and nutritional, you swing in for coffee or bubbles, and a delicious, Story Bridge Hotel-catered brunch.
You settle in. Get comfortable. And then, ooooh….you are caressed, soothed and inspired by the beautiful Sunday morning groove of the 5-piece, Graeme Norris Group.
The band is Paula Girvan at the piano, Bruce Woodward on guitar, Helen Russell on double bass, (and on our t-shirts), Aaron Jansz on drums, and Graeme’s cruisy, bluesy tenor sax providing the sweet lead voice up front.
Sydney-born Graeme, whose résumé includes sideman gigs with big names such as Eartha Kitt, Jerry Lewis, James Morrison and Tom Burlinson, has resided in New York since 2012. He is currently on a 6-week East Coast tour of his homeland.
Today, the tour brought him to us, at the Brisbane Jazz Club.
The set-list included memorable performances of several standards, like Almost Like Being In Love, This Can’t Be Love and I’m Fooling Myself, with Graeme’s purring and sultry tenor sax stepping up for the vocal greats, such as Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McCrae and Billy Holliday. And along the way, we were treated to a couple of his favourite Sonny Rollins tunes, including a sweet, tight rendition of Valse Hot.
There were many of Graeme’s originals too; several coming from his latest album, More Please!, the title track of which speaks to his love of a sweet, melodic vibe. (The album is released through Gut String Records, and available through CD Baby, Amazon Music and iTunes).
Two particular tunes from the album, East Village Sublet and Pumice Tones, colourfully illustrate the contrast between his current life as a resident of busy, buzzy New York, and the home turf tranquillity of a view across the Sunshine Coast’s Pumicestone Passage.
Another of Graeme’s tunes, Curto e Doce, (Short and Sweet), was dedicated to the recently departed Joao Gilberto, who would have been delighted, as it captures perfectly, Joao’s signature, swinging Bossa groove.
And by the way, it was inspiring to note too, the way in which Paula, Bruce, Helen and Aaron, the four outstanding musicians on stage with Graeme, were able to flawlessly, seamlessly and comfortably join him in playing music that they had never previously heard before!!
So thank you, Graeme and your band for making our Sunday morning so special. And bon voyage. Please come and see us again, next time you are back home, so that those who missed you today, can catch you, and the rest of us can enjoy it all again.
And Brisbane Jazz fans, please note that our Sunday Brunch sessions are held on the last Sunday of every month. Doors open at 9.30am. Music from the performers du jour is from 10 until 12.30. Come check us out next month.
Brisbane Jazz Club