Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Thu 6 Aug
The always-brilliant and endlessly generous James Morrison has excelled himself in gathering together this stellar band of extraordinary world-class jazz musicians. It was a privilege to be in the Festival Theatre audience as they dazzled, dizzied and delighted us with a rich array of classics and contemporary pieces that need to be recorded… please!
From the gorgeous opening notes to our final standing ovation we were enthralled, entertained and enchanted by the magical musical mastery presented with such affable and relaxed friendliness.
There are no words to describe the joyful phenomenon that is Marian Petrescu, Romanian-born jazz pianist extraordinaire, not surprisingly hailed by some as “the best jazz pianist in the world”. His unbelievably fast and fabulous playing has been described as “like Oscar Peterson on steroids”. You’d better believe it. We were agog with disbelief at his furious dexterity and the Steinway was smokin’!
Backed by brilliant double bass-player Phil Stack and the dynamic Gordon Rytmeister on drums, James and the band opened the show and then welcomed Megan Washington to the stage to complete this delicious line-up. They played terrific tunes from Duke Ellington, Luiz Bonfa, Cole Porter and more.
Megan Washington is mesmerizing; her clear faultless vocals sparring with the instruments and weaving their way through the songs. At times, she was so immersed in the music she was singing with her head on her knees, or squatting on her red-soled heels, but her voice never wavered. Amazing.
Her solo of her own song To Or Not Let Go was spell-binding and lots of fun when later re-played, jazzed up by the full band. There were yummy duets with James on trombone in Slow Boat To China, and the fab Phil Stack on double bass in Nothing Can Be Done.
James and Marian also treated us to some beautiful banter and classical concerto excerpts by Marian before they played Caravan as a tribute to Oscar Peterson and Dizzy Gillespie. To say it was mind-blowing is an understatement.
These marvels of modern music all enjoyed each other so much it was like hanging out with a bunch of friends at a jam, the jokey casualness and inclusion testimony to the true greatness of this gathering.
Australia is lucky to have James Morrison, this musician of such calibre, accomplishment and generosity of spirit, who is so willing to share his gifts.
There are not enough stars on our five star system to rate a show like the one that Adelaide saw. I’m giving it seven stars!