Monday, October 8, 2018

Jazz Café lets locals show and flex talent

Jazz Café - Big choir! Big band! Big night out!
Saturday 6 October 2018, Dunedin Town Hall

Tables, candles, smoky downlights, a dance floor and streamers transformed the Dunedin Town Hall for City Choir Dunedin’s “Jazz Café”.

Close on the heels of the Dunedin Arts Festival, it represented a chance for something not too serious nor thought-provoking. 

It also gave a glorious opportunity for local jazz groups to flex their talents.

Most notable of these is Sophie Morris. Her relaxed professionalism and vocal control delivered some stunning numbers which wowed the audience.

Eva Cassidy’s Song bird, All that Jazz and Bonnie Raitt’s I can’t Make you Love Me gave a marvelous avenues for Morris’ dramatic drive and well rounded tone.

David Burchell’s direction of Alexander L’Estrange’s Song Cycle – vive la Vélorution! with Dunedin’s jazz quintet called succinctly enough Quintet, was innovative and fun. 

The City Choir Dunedin cyclists’ abilities to weave their way past music stands is highly commended and the choristers’ pantomimes were quite funny. L’Estrange’s piece also works the pun. The best of these songs was the first repeated at the close. The choir performed exceptionally well and clearly enjoyed keeping the beat throughout its cleverly revolving rhythmic patterns. 

The soaring Free wheelin’ and jaunty Cycle babble stood out as new and innovative while the other songs meandered off into historic kitsch.

Dunedin City Jazz Orchestra directed by Calder Prescott performed some jazz standards. Their rendition of Weather Report’s Birdland was riveting.

The innovative trio, Café Operana, comprising vocalist Lois Johnston, wonderfully talented harpist Helen Webby and Sophia Bidwell on accordion with guest Sean Manning with the Irish drum, the bodhran, were much appreciated by the audience.

Dunedin Youth Jazz Orchestra, the Dunedin Youth Choir and dancers Swing Riot established and maintained the mood during a long evening.

Though the audience numbers dwindled [after three hours] it left them In the Mood for another such enjoyable venture.

Reviewed by Marian Poole, Otago Daily Times, 8 October 2018.

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