[ADELAIDE PREMIERE ~ AUS ~ IF YOU LOVE… MUSIC THAT MOVES YOU]
Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Sun 16 Jun.
One striking visual aspect of waiting for the Alma Zygier Quintet to arrive is the lack of a drum kit onstage.
When the quintet does arrive there are two acoustic guitarists, (Sam O’Halloran and Lachlan Mitchell), acoustic bass (Dan Whitten), clarinet (Brennan Hamilton-Smith) and the striking figure of Alma Zygier on centre stage and vocals.
Not having a drummer in no way means this is a quiet or sedate affair. As the enthusiastic band rip into some early American jazz songs at breakneck speed it is immediately clear that everyone on stage is having great fun, beaming while they happily trade skilful solos, and this mood quickly fills the room. Alma throws herself completely into the music, soaring vocals with gestures and facial expressions that animate each song.
Although there is nothing new here, everything feels fresh. Even when more obvious songs are performed it is clear that the quintet have done their homework. The arrangement of Summertime is exquisite. When she performs ‘her favourite song ever’ – Somewhere Over The Rainbow – it is the full song and not just the popular refrain performed by so many.
On this occasion the set list is weighted a little towards cabaret hits, but this is a cabaret festival after all. By the time Alma has worked her way through a dexterous rendition of Judy Garland’s The Trolley Song it is clear that a glittering career in musical theatre awaits her if she wants it. But I hope she continues to sing jazz in the style of her beloved Ella Fitzgerald and continues to shine a light on classic songs that are slipping into obscurity. And she has recently stated that she has started writing her own songs. Can’t wait!
Let’s hope Alma Zygier decides to make Adelaide a regular destination.