REVIEW: Charlotte Jane And JazzLab The Boathouse. Friday, January 4.
JazzLab didn't immediately strike me as the best choice to play a tribute to the American trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. For a start there is no trumpeter in the band. Charlotte Jane's vocals and violin, along with Gerard Master's sax filled in with a softer tonal choice, which was better for a room the size of the Boathouse.
The music was anything but soft. The sophisticated riffs, bandied about, punctuated and syncopated by this tremendously skilled Australian band, made them one of the best I have heard at the Nelson Jazz Festivals.
Charlotte Jane's vocals have a breathy singing style. She wrote in her own original vocals for Hubbard's largely instrumental repertoire. In Birdlike, one of Hubbard's best known tracks, she showed her full vocal range, exuding very deep notes and scatting [singing without words and using the vocal chords like a saxophone]. I was impressed with her sensitive emotional use of the voice at times touching on notes so softly that her vocal chords barely emitted a consistent sound. Imagine Cleo Laine without the high notes.
Freddie Hubbard is legendary amongst muso's but maybe not so much by the Nelson public as the boathouse was less than full. However the largely over 40's audience appeared to appreciate the skill and experience of this truly impressive band.
Confidently interspersed amongst Hubbard's best works were several original pieces co-written by Charlotte and husband Sami. This invites the audience to compare one track against the next, so your own talent needs to be robust. Their compositions, such as 'Out of the blue', fitted seamlessly into the Grammy award winning Hubbard mix. JazzLab embraces Free Jazz with equal aplomb.
A running commentary [between tunes] of the high points of Hubbard's personal and professional life added intellectual interest to the sound of his musical development within the Free Jazz movement of 1960's New York.
Thank you to Liam Ryan and Wollaston wines for bringing over this dynamic band. It was a splendid toe-tapping two hours.
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