Running over 12 nights and extending beyond London for the first time, the fifth edition of Georgia Mancio’s unique ReVoice! Festival presented a truly world-class line-up of vocal jazz. In the first of four concerts I had the pleasure of seeing, a packed house at Pizza Express Jazz Club saw Liane Carroll, Ian Shaw and Mancio whipping up a saucy and sassy musical storm. If there was a gig this year with better banter and bonhomie I’d love to have seen it. With three-part harmonies to die for on ‘You’ve Got A Friend’, a Carroll/Shaw piano duet fantasia on ‘All of Me’, whistle-offs and heart-rending ballads, it was quite a night.
Featuring everything from the hard-swinging, Lorca-inspired ‘Stone Cold’ from 2003’s You Draw The Line to the brilliant ‘Tower of Song’ from her recent Leonard Cohen songbook A Thousand Kisses Deep, Christine Tobin’s ‘Deep Song’ retrospective was outstanding. The trio of songs from the masterly Sailing to Byzantium – ‘The Tale of Wandering Aengus’, ‘In Memory of Eva Gore Booth and Constance Markiewicz’ and ‘Long-Legged Fly’ – were a particular highlight.
Breaking the mould with ‘Hands, Mouth and Feet‘ with sweet-toned, multilayered vocals and percussion of Vinx De’Jon Parrette coupled with the propulsive cross rhythms of tap dancer Lee Payne swept everyone up in an exuberant, soul-stirring embrace.
Pouring her entire heart and soul into her performance, Carmen Lundy delivered one of the most captivating sets I’ve ever witnessed in the club. Presenting material from her latest release Soul To Soul, including the immensely powerful ‘Grace’ and ‘Between Darkness and Dawn’, the music-making by Lundy and her outstanding band – pianist Patrice Rushen, bassist Darryl Hall and drummer Jamison Ross – was by turns uplifting and transporting. It was one of those unforgettable nights that ReVoice has a habit of serving up. Soul to Soul has just been placed on the Official Ballot for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category. I sincerely hope it wins.
One of the great pleasures of ReVoice! is hearing Mancio perform in duo with some of the UK’s finest musicians. This year saw some wonderfully inventive pairings with bassist Mike Janisch (including an exquisite reading of ‘My Ship’) and an ever-inventive Gareth Lockrane on flute, whistle and piano (great to hear the singer’s inventive arrangement of ‘Just in Time’). Best of all was Mancio’s poignant lyrics to Zawinul’s ‘Midnight Mood’ with pianist David Newton. Eloquent, elegiac and intensely moving, I’ve never heard Mancio sing it more beautifully.