Jazz UK

REVIEW – ReVoice! Festival 2011

Enormous respect to singer and producer Georgia Mancio for organising her second international vocal festival, ReVoice! at Dean Street’s Pizza Express in early October. Too many highs to cover fully here but hearing Ms Mancio every night, opening the shows with a variety of guests, was a huge treat in itself. A duet with the great electric bassist Laurence Cottle on the opening night and a bout of scat followed by a ‘whistle off’ with Jim Mullen on the Sunday were just two of the quirkily unexpected delights before the main courses of the sublime Norma Winstone and Klaus Gesing on Friday and a thrilling new American singer Sachal Vasandani with an astonishing band on Sunday.

The enormously popular new star Gregory Porter, with his dynamic jazz/soul mix, packed the place on Friday and Saturday with a hard driving band of Brits with Ben Castle, Graeme Flowers, Grant Windsor, Geoff Gascoyne and Dave Ohm.

New Italian singer Diana Torto was a beautiful part of Kenny Wheeler’s Something Else Quartet with John Taylor and Palle Danielsson and in Georgia’s words she really tempered her virtuosity to serve the music.

Ian Shaw told me that he had been floored by Barbara Raimondi with her Contigo en la Distancia and its authentic mix of Spanish and Latin music.

For me, the closing Friday, the expected climax of the week with Belgian singer David Linx and pianist Diederik Wissels was a true conundrum. First we had Georgia duetting with Ian Shaw. A bass player would have been nice, but these two performed with so much heart and gentle humour that the caveat was soon forgotten. Mancio’s ‘Willow Weep For Me’ was the real deal and Shaw’s version of ‘Since I Fell For You’ took me back to his white soul boy days. He was immensely moving on Gilbert O’Sullivan’s  ‘Alone Again, Naturally’ which illustrated perfectly Noel Coward’s aphorism about the potency of cheap music: base metal into gold indeed.

But I never felt involved in the Linx/Wissels set at all. Certainly the vocal/piano techniques on display, heavily influenced by 20th century classical techniques were astonishing and probably equalled only by Bobby McFerrin, but I yearned for a melody or a groove until a soupçon of both appeared in the final tune, ‘Going Home’. Too late for me, but the whoops, whistles and cheers that greeted the end of the set suggested that I have acquired old codger status at last.