All About Jazz
The name at the top of the cover of Live At ReVoice! is that of Georgia Mancio, the London-based vocalist who appears on every one of the 12 tracks. A quick glance lower down the cover adds a dozen more names—a list of Mancio’s accompanists that reads like a veritable “Who’s Who” of the UK jazz scene. A baker’s dozen of talented performers, twelve beautifully performed songs, captured with exceptional sound quality.
Mancio has organised the ReVoice! festival since 2010, in association with the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London’s Soho which is also the festival’s primary venue (11 of these songs were recorded there, with “Sugar” coming from a 2012 performance at the Union Chapel). As its name suggests, ReVoice! is devoted to the art of the vocalist. It’s an art which can be expressed in a seemingly infinite number of ways: vocalists as diverse as Gregory Porter, Tuck and Patti, Vinx, Karin Krog and Diane Torto have appeared at the festival.
Live At ReVoice! presents just a few of Mancio’s own contributions—she performs an opening set each night of the festival, always with a different collaborator. Having taken a sabbatical from the stresses of festival organisation during 2015 she’s brought some of her favorite performances together here, aided by co-producer (and bassist) Andrew Cleyndert.
Mancio is in fine voice on these songs. Her fellow performers prove to be sympathetic, responsive, accompanists approaching each song in ways that complement the vocal. The piano is the most prominent instrument, with seven appearances, but other instruments are by no means outshone by the 88 keys. Michael Janisch’s tough, powerful, up-tempo bass drives Mancio forward on a speedy performance of “Just In Time”; Maurizio Minardi’s accordion adds atmosphere to “Le Strade Di Notte”; Colin Oxley’s guitar wraps around Mancio’s voice on “The Things We Did Last Summer” like a warm woolly blanket (the singer responds with a whistled interlude).
The exception to the complementary tendency is Robert Mitchell’s piano on “Just Friends”: a spiky, bop-ish, approach that contrasts with Mancio’s smooth, relaxed, voice to create an unexpected tension which resolves as singer and pianist engage in some scat/keyboard interplay.
In a host of fine duo performances, the finest duet is probably Mancio and Liane Carroll’s reading of Goffin and King’s “Going Back.” Carroll is a superb vocalist herself, but here it’s her piano playing that’s to the fore as she crafts perfectly judged lines that match the beauty of the vocal.
Mancio’s personal finest moment might just be on Lennon and McCartney’s “In My Life,” with pianist James Pearson. Like Johnny Cash’s heartbreaking version, this is a slow, thoughtful, arrangement—like Carroll, Pearson’s spacious playing is beautifully judged. Unlike Cash, Mancio’s voice moves noticeably higher on crucial words (“There is no-one compares with you” or “I love you more,” for example): it’s the matter of moments but it shifts the emotional quality of the lyric from loss and regret to hope and joy.