October 16th 2006
"Curlew" girl sheds her shyness
Following the 1999 Great Tropical Jazz Party on Magnetic Island, this writer described a shy young jazz singer as one who, "stood transfixed, almost curlew-like onstage with a palpable shyness until she opened her mouth". The line was clearly not lost on the slim young lady who returned this weekend with the extra weight of the best vocalist award at the hugely prestigious, 2006 Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition in Switzerland. Kristin Berardi reminded the Island audience of the comment at her concert on Saturday night, mentioning the Island's iconic bird, "with skinny legs that move then, just stop," adding, "I'm glad you gave the curlew another go!"
The audience was clearly glad too as Kristin shed her curlew-like shyness and radiated every emotional nuance imaginable with a face as rapidly expressive as her vocal scat improvisations. It was another performance to remember as a line up of John Hoffman/Newcomb Quintet hotshots and others joined her to blow away the rapt audience with the emotional charge she generates in every line. And with songs like Body and Soul, Mood Alley and the delicious, Just squeeze me (don't tease me) the curlew girl had us all in the spell of her call.
Georgia Weber and Kristin BerardiElana StoneMegan Washington
But if superlatives have only been dealt to Kristin Berardi then an injustice to the other two young visiting female vocalists will have been committed. Elana Stone is a performer with an enormously powerful voice and presence who is clearly on her way to big career. And when she teamed up briefly with the absolutely sensational Megan Washington on Sunday evening for, Lover man where can you be, it wasn't just the delicious vocals but the raunchy fun these young women put out that will be treasured in the memories of what was far too small an audience at the time.
Megan Washington and Elana StoneJohn Hoffman and Georgia WeberZoe Hauptman
But if the attendance was low at times the sense that jazz is being picked up and taken in fresh and exciting directions by young people was the most heartening lesson to learn at the GTJP. It wasn't just the hot young singers either. Zoe Hauptman and Georgia Weber are two bassists of enormous talent and potential and, keyboardist, Steve Newcomb played as if totally possessed by the music.
The sense that jazz is being reborn with young people who aren't necessarily slick and smooth but visibly entranced by a sound and prepared to let it carry them away, will no doubt hearten the many superbly gifted senior players who came together to make the Party perhaps the best yet.
I have yet to mention the top-billed American guest Tom Lellis whose silky voice and faultless professionalism added the zing of a very experienced interpreter who sang his own vocals to the instrumental hits of other greats. It was an education to hear and see him work the audience and draw out the skills of his improvised band.
Other ensembles such as the John Mackey Quintet with the superb trumpet of Miroslav Bukovsky, the brilliant guitar of Dave Smith as well as the very gifted Hauptmann siblings, Zoe on bass and James on drums plus the tight and neatly crafted sounds of Sydney's Mark4 were every bit as satisfying as the rest.
I was unable to attend all the sessions and concerts so cannot comment on the likes of Downtown Dixie, Liquid, Counterpoint, Exposed Bone and the Ted Vining Trio but have to say that the youngest outfit of all, The Grammar Sax Quartet of Alex Hammerton, Cameron Miller, Grace Panozzo, and Gareth Lloyd were a small sensation all of their own at the intro performances following the Party's launch on Friday night.
It was little wonder that, towards its end, John Hoffman said of the Party, "I haven't heard any more exciting and fresh music anywhere in Australia today.
magnetictimes.com News Club competition winners Sophina
and Leigh Hemmingway with their double weekend passes
were smiling all weekend.Thank you Marilyn Sheather and the
Magnetic Jazz Association
Magnetic Jazz Association - driven by the tireless energy of, singer in her own right and Jazz tragic, Marilyn Sheather, deserves the highest of praise once again for this superb cultural event on Magnetic Island. The sponsors which include: Queensland Events, Magnetic International Resort, Townsville City Council, Magnetic Island Lions Club, Sunferries, Magnetic Island Transport, 4tttFM, and the Magnetic Island Bus Service also deserve our appreciation and support for a very special occasion.
For more photos of the event (click here)
Story & photos: George Hirst
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