Georgia Mancio Quintet, Pizza Express Jazz Club, March 2008
Two forms of jazz that normally proceed in a whisper – Brazilian samba sung by young women, and improvisation on the flute – assume an engaging forthrightness and punch in Georgia Mancio’s band. Mancio is a former Ronnie Scott’s club waitress who is the granddaughter of an opera singer and a classical pianist. Far from leaving her overawed by legends and traditions, however, those experiences seem to have helped her evolve into a performer of character, conviction and relaxed virtuosity.
Mancio was launching her second album, Trapeze, with an unusual lineup that showcased the flute-playing of the formidable Gareth Lockrane and the resourcefulness of Anselmo Netto, a percussionist who also plays mandolin. Early in her first set, Mancio emphasised that, for all her affection for Brazilian grooves, she is also an inventive straight-ahead improviser over swing. Regular drummer Dave Ohm and flawless bassist Dave Green supplied a crisp and assertive version of that, and their combined drive is a powerful reason why Mancio’s music sounds both purposeful and chilled at the same time.
The singer’s jubilant delivery and clean tone, Netto’s hand-drumming and a flute/vocal duet firmly established that this was going to be no softly-softly jazz-samba gig. A mid-tempo Oscar Brown Jr blues highlighted both Mancio’s care with good lyrics, and a stunning display of sharp-accented runs, earthy whoops and constantly refreshed melodic ideas from Lockrane. Seu Jorge’s Portuguese version of Bowie’s Life on Mars was then reinvented around Netto’s mandolin.
Mancio has occupied the fringes for a few years without quite finding the spotlight, but she seems more than ready for it now.