Tag: Stevie Wonder

REVIEW: Melbourne Jazz Festival and CASSANDRA WILSON

Innovative, iconoclastic and exquisite

By Anastasia and Peter Slipper

The Melbourne International Jazz Festival certainly brought out the star power for their closing night last night with a standing ovation for singer Cassandra Wilson at Hamer Hall.

Cassandra Wilson

Wilson’s voice – honey-smooth, seductive and powerful – had the entire audience under her spell for two deceptively long sets, so that it almost seemed that she had the power to control time itself. Infused with the swampy blues sound of her native Mississippi, her performance showcased songs ranging from her early career to her latest album, Another Country, released last year. Wilson’s performances of covers were as heartfelt and individual as that of her own material, and the encore of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time was a masterpiece.

She is known as a performer who transcends genre, and this performance was no exception, although the blues were never far away. The backing ensemble of bass, percussion, guitar, violin and harmonica wove elements of latin, country and folk around jazz- and blues-based grooves in a perfect synergy. Arrangements were often sparse, providing plenty of opportunities for the five musicians to show off their improvisatory prowess – exciting and very much in-the-moment.

Swiss harmonica player Gregoire Maret was an absolute stand-out, kicking off the gig with his version of Stevie Wonder’s The Secret Life of Plants. Often compared with Wonder, Maret created supple tendrils of sound from his chromatic harmonica, building into virtuosic extended solos.

The diversity of Wilson’s performance reflected the nature of jazz in the twenty-first century – it doesn’t fit into neat little boxes of genre, or exist in isolation, but is one of many musical styles constantly evolving and adapting with new influences and innovation.  Under the stewardship of Michael Tortoni the Melbourne International Jazz Festival is to be commended for reflecting this diversity in the programming for 2013 – and these reviewers are certainly looking forward to what delights next year’s festival may bring.

Cassandra Wilson performed at Hamer Hall on June 9 2013 for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.


Good clean dirty a capella fun!

By Maxine Montgomery

On  Suade’s website, there are quotes from audience members who attended the boys’ 2010 Melbourne Cabaret Festival offering: ““My God, those guys can sing – but I’m glad I didn’t bring the kids” and “I nearly laughed my guts out.”

With those two quotes in my head, I went along to see For Adults Only expecting something akin to the musical version of ‘Men Behaving Badly’.

And the lads did not disappoint!

After dealing with an initial technical audio glitch with the right measure of professionalism and humour, the show began with some classic Stevie Wonder done a capella which got the crowd into the right mood for what would be a night of great singing and fabulous cheek.

I was surprised to find the opening number to be suitable for children – but all that was about to change. Perhaps it was designed to first introduce the uninitiated to the sound of a capella and then hit us with dirty stuff after a couple of numbers.

And, oh man, did it get dirty! That awkward moment with a new love when you’re so nervous you’re coming and going at the same time. The lengths to which you’d go to please your woman – “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that”. Or exploring the benefits of role play to spice up your relationship.  My personal favourite was Loz’s song of creative insults (his words, not mine). Along with many in the crowd, I found myself simultaneously screaming with both laughter and horror.

The lyrics, the choreography, the obscene hand gestures – Suade know how to have fun and take the audience with them every step of the way. It was delightful seeing the boys trying to crack up each other mid-song.

But more importantly – their singing most definitely has the “wow” factor. One can only begin to imagine the number of hours that go into creating the perfect balance and execution of just one song, let alone a whole program. The final ascending chord of the night had me thinking, “Hot, hot, HOT!” – the sound that the guys produce is polished, tight and more than a little bit sexy.

Suade are an a capella tour de force.

If you’re a fan of damn fine singing, a good clean bit of dirty fun and you are a self proclaimed filthy bastard (again, Loz’s words, not mine!), get along to one of the two remaining shows this weekend.

Suade presents For Adults Only at the 2011 Melbourne Cabaret Festival.

Sat/Sun July 23/24 @ 8pm

Lamond Room, South Melbourne Town Hall

Tickets $37/$34 @ www.melbournecabaret.com