Presented by the Jenna and the Stampedes and the Cabaret Fringe Festival
Reviewed Wed 9th June 2010
Venue: La Bohème, 36 Grote Street, Adelaide
Season: Sun 27th June
Tickets: $25/conc $20
Bookings for all Cabaret Fringe shows: BASS 131 241 or http://www.bass.net.au
Another dreary winter’s evening was warmed by a hot jazz performance as Jenna Stamp and a quartet of great musicians set The Promethean alight with their music. Her backing band, The Stampedes, are Kamil Abt, guitar, Brenton Foster, piano, Alana Dawes, bass and Barnaby Smith, drums.
The intriguing title of the show was not, as might have been supposed, the theme for the evening, but just a catchy song title. A brief introduction from Hew Parham and Jenna was carried onto the stage where she quickly stated, I Want to Be Evil, a great rendition of the Lester Judson and Raymond Taylor song that was a hit for Eartha Kitt way back in 1953. With plenty of fun patter between song to keep the show lowing she moved quickly to the Duke Ellington standard, Do Nothing ‘Til You Hear From Me and then the not so well known song, associated with Anita O’Day, The No Soap, No Hope Blues.
Dancer’s from the Swing Sesh, a school specialising in dancing from the 1920s to 1940s, turned up in force to strut their stuff in the small space in front of the stage and joined in at this point. The 1936 number, You Turned the Tables on Me, made famous by Helen Ward with Benny Goodman’s Orchestra, got them moving in fine style, but a very fast rendition of Cole Porter’s, It’s Alright With Me, soon had them taking a short break.
The Sonny Burke and Paul Francis Webster song, Black Coffee, is a favourite with female singers and has been recorded many times since 1948. It got another airing this evening and a terrific version it was, too. The time had flown past so quickly that it was a surprise to find that we had already reached the interval.
After the break, to the song Peel Me Grape, she meandered around the audience, with Hew Parham carrying a loaded platter, popping grapes into the mouths of the audience. This brought back fond memories of the wonderful Blossom Dearie, who often sang that popular number. The came another great standard, associated with the Dorsey Brothers, the very lyrical. Angel Eyes. This received a very sympathetic reading.
Then a marvellous bass solo from Alana Dawes provided the introduction and first verse accompaniment to a song associated with Fats Waller, Honeysuckle Rose. Next came the show’s title song, with a passing reference to Duke Ellington’s Take the A Train in the piano accompaniment, and into More, a hit for Perry Como in 1956 and later recorded at a blistering tempo as an instrumental by British bandleader, Ted Heath.
Then it was back to Blossom Dearie, for Blossom’s Blues, to close the show, followed by enormous and well-deserved applause and plenty of conversation, as nobody seemed in a hurry to leave, probably because we were all hoping that she’d start another set.
Jenna Stamp has a superb singing voice and she really knows how to interpret a song and make it her own, but there is more to her show than her impeccable work as a singer. It is the addition of her vibrant personality and keen sense of fun that helps to take her performance to an even higher level.
The four piece band provided solid accompaniment all night with thoughtful solos and some great interchanges when they engaged in ‘trading eights, where performers take turns playing eight bar solos. There were also some very cleverly wrought instrumental conversations happening in the breaks between the vocal passages.
The last of her three performances is at La Bohème on 27th June, so you have plenty of time to brush up on your own dancing skills. Don’t worry, though, it is not compulsory. Catch this one for a good night out.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor Glam Adelaide.