REVIEW – ReVoice! Festival 2011

The second edition of Georgia Mancio‘s ReVoice! Festival presented the award-winning vocalist in a series of mouth-watering double bills over nine evenings.

Elemental, all-enveloping, unfailingly beautiful in tone, Gregory Porter‘s voice just seems to emanate from the deepest part of his being. On the evidence of the new material – the brilliant ‘Way to Harlem’ and ‘Mother’s Song’, the latter featuring a classic Motown-like gear change – the singer’s follow up to his Grammy nominated debut Water is going to be killing.  Songs from the debut included the stunning ‘Illusion’. Heard in pin-drop silence, when it comes to being hurt by love, the singer’s insights suggest he’s been in the firing line on more than one occasion. Warm, funny, appreciative, generous, Porter’s stagecraft was faultless. There was a lovely moment of synchronicity too, when he sang ‘Black Nile’: the tune’s composer, Wayne Shorter, was playing just down the road at the Barbican.

A 2010 Downbeat Rising Star poll winner, US vocalist Sachal Vasandani brought his outstanding New York band to perform his boldly reworked standards and urbane originals. Highlights included the hypnotic descending ostinato pattern of ‘Please My Ogilvy’ from his debut ‘Eyes Wide Open’ and a poignant take on “Love Is A Losing Game’ (from latest album Hi-Fly). Best of all was a remarkable triptych that drew together the hymnic ‘Royal Eyes’ (from second album We Move), ‘There Are Such Things’ and ‘My Dear’ into a remarkable whole.

Featuring the enormously rich timbre of Italian vocalist Diana Torto, pianist John Taylor and bassist Palle Danielsson, the world premiere of Kenny Wheeler‘s multinational Something Else Quartet hit the aesthetic bullseye from the off. The gorgeous unison melody of ‘Jigsaw’ stated by Torto and Wheeler cast a glow over the entire club, and Wheeler’s opening solo somehow managed to express all that’s good and true in music.

Another exceptional Italian singer, Barbara Raimondi, appearing with guitarist Roberto Taufic and percussionist Enzo Zirilli, performed a supremely understated and heartwarming set of classic South American songs by masters such as Gardel (‘El Dia Que Me Quieras’) and Jobim (‘Waters Of March’).

Programming, presenting and performing over all nine nights, Mancio‘s sets with Nikki Iles and Ian Shaw were particularly memorable, an exquisite interpretation of ‘Por Toda Minha Vida’ (from Elis & Tom) with the former, a supremely effective splicing together of ‘In My Life’ and ‘Alone Again, Naturally’ with the latter. In its brief existence, ReVoice! has already carved out a unique and important niche in the capital’s jazz life.