Fringe World review: Sassafras: Under Paris Skies⋅
Ellington Jazz Club, January 24⋅
Review by Steve Baitz⋅
Acoustic gypsy-jazz band Sassafras presented a world-class musical performance to the capacity audience that filled Ellington’s Jazz Club on Thursday night. The five-piece band entered as the lights dimmed and, before our eyes could adjust to the darkness, launched into a haunting rendition of Jacques Brel’s Le diable (Ça va), evoking the Paris of Picasso, Dali and Matisse.
Jessie Gordon fronted the band, her scintillating vocals coaxing the audience into involuntary rhythmic finger snapping and tapping our emotions. The musicians fed off each other’s energy as well as that of the room with tight synchronicity. A rendition of Je t’aime highlighted the skills of Pete Jeavons on double bass. Sidney Bechet’s Si tu vois ma mere allowed Adrian Galante to shine with a clarinet solo that absolutely wowed the appreciative audience. Aaron Deacon and Lachlan Gear kicked in with excellent guitar work, ably anchored by Jeavons on bass. The title song, Under Paris skies was released gently to the crowd followed by Le deux guitares, Spencer Williams’ I’ve found a new baby, and of course, Edith Piaf’s La vie en rose. The audience applause was eventually interrupted by the final number, Toute ma joie. Gordon aptly described the night’s musical journey as 75% emotional agony and 25% joy.
Club manager, Tony Wallace, kept operations smooth with an unobtrusive food and beverage service to a responsive and respectful crowd – a perfect venue for Sassafras’s performance. This proved to be a most enjoyable hour. I went in quite grumpy from a tough day and left feeling light and satisfied.
Picture Top: The musicians from Sassafras. Photo: Corey James