Melody Gardot (2022 EFG LJF) – London Jazz News

Melody Gardot

(Royal Festival Hall. 19 November 2022. London Jazz Festival. Review by Andrew Cartmel)

When Melody Gardot last performance at the Royal Festival Hall, in 2018 , Guy Barker was on stage with her. This year, he is two places ahead of us, part of the enthusiastic public that welcomes this fabulous singer to London. During the pandemic, Gardot found herself calmed down in Paris – an ideal place for that – and following her prolonged and unexpected stopover there, she radically reconfigured her touring group. It was in Paris that she met three main members of her new unit, the drummer and the percussionistJorge Bezerra double bass player Christopher Thomas and, above all, pianistPhilippe Powell

who appears to be the son of Brazilian music legend Baden Powell. The rest of the musicians of this flexible and distinctive formation consisted of faithful Gardot Irwin Room on saxophone and flute, and its section of regular strings, drawn from the Philharmonic Orchestra of Armenia, cellist Artyom Manukian with Astghik Vardanian and Gohar Papoyan to violins and Astghik Gazhoyan

on the viola. The evening started with the singer Laura Anglade accompanied by the guitaristSam Kirmayer

, both from the flourishing Montreal jazz scene. Kirmayer’s playing was exceptional and he proved a worthy and likable foil for Anglade, who is clearly a singer we’ll hear more about – and hopefully. His enjoyable set featured terrific song choices, from Burke and Van Heusen to Michel Legrand, and some fine, flowing scat vocals. Then comes the main act, with Fashola Jumoke a brave introduction despite a dead mic, then we found ourselves in a strange, minimalist and melancholy interpretation of foreign traveler sung by Melody Gardot accompanied just by the double bass pinched by Christopher Thomas and some cool percussion from Jorge Bezerra then sour, sparse, sawing the cello of

Artyom Manukyan. Irwin Hall’s sweet flute and Philippe Powell’s adroitly thrifty piano were added toThat’s wonderful . Then on Love song

the piano turned into falling raindrops and Hall, now on saxophone, was downright ecstatic as Artyom Manukyan picked up soaring staccato pulses from the cello. Melody Gardot watched approvingly as he went on a high-speed bow, an intoxicating toe-tapping effect that turned into a psychedelic frenzy. By this time, Ms. Gardot seemed less a star singer than a conductor of Duke Ellington caliber who watched with parental tenderness as she unleashed her virtuoso soloists, with Christophe Thomas’ manly, edgy bass coming next.Powell played tumbling chords and Melody Gardot’s vocals glided over the textures created by the angular strings like a skateboarder on a slope. It was a cutting-edge ensemble with super-hip Melody presiding over it. The melancholy soundscape conjured up by the strings turned into honeyed, soulful R&B, and as they shimmered, Melody Gardot sang them a love song (From Paris with love

) in a voice as smooth and smoky as a single malt whisky. Irwin Hall was his willing accomplice, providing a lyrical clamor from his tenor sax.About Our love is easy , Hall’s saxophone sounded like an air raid warning amid erotic reverie as the strings provided rich texture and context. The clarity and power of Melody Gardot’s singing is easy to underestimate thanks to the subtlety and delicacy of her delivery. She is a great storyteller, a weaver of love stories. This foolish heart could love you was a duet with Philippe Powell on the chiming piano. Then they executed Sunday Flowers

and the string section joined in, lifting the song like a mother lifting a baby in her arms. On morning sun

Melody Gardot briefly resumed her place behind the piano, and Carole King’s influence was clearly seen in her playing and songwriting – but she also recalled Shirley Horn. Irwin Hall’s sax was dreamily beautiful and the ecstatic rising strings were played with an exquisite folk music feel. The composition on the banks of the Seine The stars

was played in a very appropriate Hot Club de Paris style with a spectacular rhapsodic gypsy contribution from Astghik Vardanyan on solo violin. Powell’s piano was like flipping silver coins and Jorge Bezerra’s hand drum added an excited heartbeat.

This is a hugely configurable and rewarding line-up and there was something like genius in the kaleidoscope rearrangements of these musicians throughout the evening. Melody Gardot, who was already at the forefront, innovates. LINKS: John Bungey’s review of the deluxe edition of Sunset in the blue

from 2021

Andrew Cartmel’s review of the RFH 2018 concert

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