It is always a pleasure to be in the presence of a penultimate performer, one who oozes confidence, has great command of the stage, complete trust in their musician colleagues and can hold the audience captivated and in the palm of its hand.
Janet Seidel’s pure intimate creamy vocals amaze with their great depth, rare clarity and clear purpose. She has the power to soothe and seduce all at once with sensuous sounds that draw you in and hold you magically in her spell.
It may have been Grand Final Day in Melbourne town, however the Janet Seidel Trio packed their Salon performance for a mid afternoon ‘cabaret’ style show at the Melbourne Recital Centre (MRC) complete with mood lighting, round tables, little lights and café chairs.
Janet Seidel and her wonderful wing men delivered a superb recital of very stylish songs from the group’s latest recording Far Away Places. She was passionately backed by her brother David Seidel grooving away on his c1820 Double Bass and Chuck Morgan wowing everyone on his ex Clara Bow 1927 Ukulele, as well as his brilliant playing of classic and electric guitars.
All are performers who ooze experience and élan.
It always seems to have been an integral aspect of a Jazz musician’s life that they spend time on the road going from town to town. It’s an image I still have of them embedded in childhood from Hollywood movies.
Free and easy, that’s my style
Howdy-do me, watch me smile
Fare-thee-well me after a while
‘Cause I gotta roam
And any place I hang my hat is home
Right from the outset with their opening number Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home the trio took us on a journey through their world of cool, groovy jazz that was so smooth it was like glorious glazed icing on a cake.
No wonder the world went wild for Jazz music. It may have often difficult to define wonderful harmonies, but it also has many distinctive styles and time signatures. Jazz grew restlessly in colour and shape from the first decade of the 20th century and from the birth of ragtime to rhythm and blues and on to the joy of swing and a truly fabulous fifties revival that took place in stylish clubs in cities around the world.
Jazz was a blending of African and European music sensibilities that gave us songs like Kiss of Fire, which were made famous by Jazz legend Louis Armstrong (Satchmo). This show and some of the songs gave Janet Seidel’s musicians an opportunity to show off their virtuoso Ukelele and Double Bass skills, which were considerable.
The Ukelele usually conjurs up images of Hawaiian shirts, but in Chuck Morgan’s hands the Ukelele is something else entirely.
It’s four strings produced a myriad of marvellous sounds that revealed why this simple instrument has enjoyed so much success since it first emerged in the late 19th century and become popular all around the world.
In the hands of a consummate musician like Morgan it has the ability to ensure that everyone listening has a really good time.
Morgan is a pure craftsman and it was a joy to hear his interpretations.
The music throughout the concert was restorative, relaxed and the repertoire featured Janet’s highly personal vocals.
The great instrumentals backing her soothing songs were all integral to my own growing up in 50’s Australia’s ‘jazz’ experience.
Her delightful stories delivered with such grace and charm throughout linking the songs had us all breezing along with the trio on the journey of their career in the world of jazz music and it was truly delightful.
The New York scene in autumn was especially alluring.
It was very easy to see why Janet Seidel has been given the title “Australia’s First Lady of Jazz” and why, when I posted on facebook I was going to this show very unexpected people popped up to tell me she’s their favourite jazz singer in Australia today.
A Hollywood version of The Glen Miller Story, the biographical journey in life of a king of sing Jazz prior to and in the early stages of World War II, as played by Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson, gave the whole 30’s jazz scene impetus for a huge revival at the time it was made in 1954 when I was 10 years old.
That was capped off with the brilliant movie High Society in 1956, a remake of the fabled Philadelphia story in disguise that took Jazz into the realm of American high society.
It starred Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and a truly gorgeous Grace Kelly. It featured Crosby and Satchmo performing their spectacular version of Now You Has Jazz and had everyone doing a soft shoe shuffle and wearing a smile.
My brother was mad about jazz and played his trumpet incessantly, my three sisters were a backing group for a very cool jazz singer of his day….and so the Janet Seidel Trio’s rendition of Ask Me How Do I Feel rang far more than one ding dong bell for me, as I am sure it did for many others in attendance.
There is no doubt everyone in the room yesterday afternoon at the Melbourne Recital Centre was wishing they could spend Autumn in New York with the Janet Seidel Trio.
They made you want to go on a Maui Holiday where you could wear a Hawaiian shirt, get some Sand in My (their) Shoes, dance the Bossa Nova and travel to Far Away Places by getting on a Slow Boat to China with this very smooth singer and her wonderful wing men who made you believe that you could continue to chill out every night to the sweet melodic sounds they made.
It would be one super stress free environment where everyone would feel ‘free and easy’ all of the time, a truly blissful escape from the world.
Stunning entertainment in the MRC Salon was a very cool, cruisey way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Spring at Melbourne.
Do hope this seamless, smooth, sophisticated, very stylish ‘High Society’ trio pack their bags and come back again very soon.
My two happy companions and I, for this afternoon soirée, had a really good time.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, AFL Grand Final Day 2013