Presented by the Cabaret Fringe Festival
Reviewed Sun 6th June 2010
Venue: The Promethean, 116 Grote Street, Adelaide
Season: only one performance
Bookings for all Cabaret Fringe shows: BASS 131 241 or http://www.bass.net.au
The Lou Blackwell Quartet is, in fact, Louise Blackwell and the Bruce Hancock Trio, with Hancock on Piano, John Aué on bass and Yuri Markov on drums. This is a formidable line up of top flight musicians and virtually a cast iron guarantee of a great concert, which this was. The music was a mixture of familiar and new, with several numbers written by Blackwell’s sister, Lisa Blackwell, and writer, Christopher Barnett.
The concert opened with My Romance, quickly followed by a number written and sung by Josephine Baker, De Temps en Temps (From Time to Time), which Blackwell sang in French, as she did with several others during the evening. Baker was one of the many black American artists who settled in Paris in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, where they found freedom from racial discrimination and recognition of their talent. She, in fact, worked for the French Resistance during the war, winning various awards, and was buried with full military honours when she died in 1975. Blackwell has spent many years living and working in Paris and draws on this French Jazz experience in her music and the stories that she tells between songs.
This led into the first of two of the songs written by her sister and Barnett, Buddhist Parable, a lively piece over a jazz-rock beat, followed by Burden of Proof, with a darker sentiment. Then she moved to Rodgers and Hammerstein for It Might as Well be Spring, a marked contrast, with its infectious Bossa-Nova rhythm
A copious collection of songs followed, including Autumn Leaves, sung in French, It Shouldn’t Happen to a Dream, Michel Legrand’s Windmills of Your Mind, Cry Me a River and more, all giving Blackwell ample opportunities to show how versatile her smooth and expressive voice can be.
She even tackled the difficult vocal version of So What?, a song referring to an incident where, unhappy with their performance, Miles Davis and John Coltrane left the stage to practice before returning to finish the set. This song, with lyrics written by Christopher Acemandese Hall and set to Davis’s tune of that name, was made famous by Eddie Jefferson.
Throughout, John Aué’s rock steady bass and Yuri Markov’s crisp, precise drumming gave a solid foundation for Hancock’s marvellously sensitive accompaniment, with regular instrumental breaks from each of these terrific musicians adding to the excitement. Lou Blackwell’s magnificent singing voice, on top of this, was the icing on the cake. The cherry on the icing, for me, was her a cappella final number, in complete contrast to the rest of the concert, the traditional Irish song, The Generous Lover.
This was a great way to spend a cold, wet Adelaide afternoon
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor Glam Adelaide