Music, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Sultry stars live on

Fringe World review: Ali Bodycoat and Jessie Gordon, Peggy Lee & Judy Garland ⋅
Ellington Jazz Club, February 6 ⋅
Review by Leon Levy ⋅

There was something especially alluring about the prospect of a session at Ellington devoted to two great American singers whose impact was felt across a broad swathe of the mid-20th century. Although they were close contemporaries and each possessed a beguiling vocal personality, they made their mark in rather different ways. Peggy Lee’s sultry renditions in both the jazz and popular repertoire saw her through a long career into old age; Judy Garland, by starting early, had almost as long a career despite her troubled life being cut short.

The question on this occasion was whether two such larger-than-life careers could be encompassed in barely an hour. And the answer on the night was an emphatic yes.

Judy Garland’s triumphs on the concert stage were arguably even greater than those on screen and disc. Ali Bodycoat, covering the Garland songs, conquered the challenge of bringing a high-voltage personality into a small room. Many of her interpretations seemed to foreshadow what was still to come in Garland’s unhappy life: Get Happy brittle with brightness, Over the Rainbow bearing a sadness deeper than Dorothy’s in The Wizard of Oz, whose happy ending the singer herself never achieved. But it was not all gloom: Zing Went the Strings of My Heart and The Trolley Song brought moments of happy abandon, enhanced by wonderfully clear diction.

Peggy Lee’s seductive style and songbook were surely tailor-made for the intimate space that is the Ellington, and Jessie Gordon slipped effortlessly into the role. Is That All There Is exuded “nightclub” and the singer brought if off beautifully. The song, Fever, although not originally hers, became inextricably bound with Peggy Lee and was another considerable highlight. All the chosen songs were covered with authentic feeling and gave great pleasure.

The linking banter between the two artists brought context to some of the songs and avoided the risk of a channelling exercise. But, in truth, much of the chatter did not add to the occasion: the delivery of the songs – and the support of a stylish Adrian Galante at the piano – said it all.

Peggy Lee & Judy Garland continues until 10 February.

Ali Bodycoat also appears in From Bodycoat to Barbra. Jessie Gordon also presents The Western Swing HourBest Friends  and Fairly Average Dance Band.

Pictured top: Ali Bodycoat and Jessie Gordon. Photo supplied.

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Man with top hat leans over pedal lap guitar
Music, News, Reviews

Blues and bonhomie

Fringe World review: Lucky Oceans and Jessie Gordon Present: The Piano Has Been Drinking ⋅
De Parel Spiegeltent, 31 January ⋅
Review by Robert Housley ⋅

The spiegeltent and a billowing smoke machine established the blues club vibe and bonhomie oozed from the stage as four accomplished musicians comfortable in their own skins met for a night of the blues. They included pedal steel guitarist and Grammy award-winning legend Lucky Oceans, vocalist/MC Jessie Gordon, vocalist/ guitarist Bill Lawrie, and keyboardist extraordinaire Paul Gioia.

The appropriation of a Tom Waits staple for both the show title and its opening number – replaced with irreverent lyrics from the band – set the scene for a night of dusky blues and a smidgen of gospel. Most of the song list came from the early part of the 20th Century such as Bessie Smith’s suggestive 1930s hit I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl, gospel track Shine on Me and the ageless classic St. James Infirmary.

Lawrie’s gravelly vocals epitomised blues authenticity; his bare feet augmenting his connection to the earth. Gordon’s delicate vocal delivery had plenty of grunt and range when required and her literal show stopper is worth the price of the ticket alone. Oceans and Gioia had their moments of exceptional musicianship each with solos bursting from behind the two vocal leads.

If sitting around with a group of friends sharing good music and banter is the kind of experience you enjoy then this Fringe show will suit you to a tee.

The Piano Has Been Drinking continues until February 3.

Pictured Top: Lucky Oceans on pedal steel guitar

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Cabaret, Features, Fringe World, Music, News, Performing arts, Vocal

Channelling the greats

Singer Ali Bodycoat will need no introduction to local jazz aficionados. A regular performer at Perth’s Ellington Jazz Club, she’s also a Fringe World veteran. This year she’s all about powerhouse women, performing solo in “From Bodycoat to Barbra” and joining forces with Jessie Gordon in “Peggy Lee and Judy Garland”.

Ahead of her back-to-back season, Bodycoat sat down with Seesaw for a Fringe Session Q&A.

Profile Headshot of Ali Bodycoat
Ali Bodycoat

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be a singer?
Ali Bodycoat: I have always wanted to perform – for as long as I can remember I had a huge desire to be in the entertainment industry.

S: Tell us about your training…
AB: The most influential formal training I had came from three incredible women – Sandra Gorringe, my high school drama teacher, Janice Taylor-Warne my classical voice teacher at WAAPA and Helen Matthews, my private jazz voice teacher. To this day, the techniques that were taught to me by these marvellous three are a part of how I approach the stage in any genre. I completed a Certificate of Musical Theatre at WAAPA and literally “fell” into the jazz world in Perth. The greatest lessons are still continuing and these are and always have been, on the job!

S: Describe your artistic practice…
AB:
Remember why we are doing this, focus on the music and the reasons behind the song – not yourself, and never, ever break an audience’s pre-conceived notions of the fantasy of being entertained. Most importantly, develop your technique and routines early so you always have that strength to fall back on.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
AB: The joy of giving an experience to an audience – for just one tiny moment, you are their travel guide and you can take them anywhere to which their mind chooses to travel. There is also something incredibly special about making music with a group of musicians who are as behind the music as you are.

S: Career highlight so far?
AB: Performing with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and also the Proms New Years’ Eve Concert with Mark Coughlan at the Perth Concert Hall.

S: Funniest career moment so far?
AB: Oh so countless – each performance has its moments of hilarity – probably being naked onstage but that’s another story…!

S: Tell us about your two Fringe World shows, “From Bodycoat to Barbra” and “Peggy Lee & Judy Garland”
AB: The unforgettable Jessie Gordon and I perform together in “Peggy Lee & Judy Garland”. “From Bodycoat to Barbra” presents the music of Barbra Streisand. Both shows are at the Ellington Jazz Club and are one hour slots jam-packed with the legends of the women and their music!

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
AB: As much as possible… get out that programme and DIVE IN!

S: What is your favourite part of the playground?
AB: Well I’ve always had a penchant for a trampoline…

You can catch Ali Bodycoat in 
“Peggy Lee & Judy Garland”, 6 – 10 February 
“Ali Bodycoat Presents – From Bodycoat to Barbra”, 13 – 17 February
at the Ellington Jazz Club on Beaufort Street.

Pictured top: Ali Bodycoat with Jessie Gordon.

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Five musicians in formal wear sit on a couch, with tasselled lamps and rustic brick backdrop
Jazz, News, Reviews

Sassafras satisfies

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

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The Western Swing Hour
Calendar, Fringe World, Music, Performing arts

Music: The Western Swing Hour with Lucky Oceans & Jessie Gordon

6 – 10 February @ The Ellington Jazz Club ·
Presented by Jessie Gordon ·

Grammy award winning legend Lucky Oceans and Fringe World veteran Jessie Gordon bring you a night of joyful, exuberant Western Swing with a dash of soul searching sorrow. Born in the heart of Texas, burnished in the heat of Australia’s own West, this music is the nexus where country meets hot jazz.

The band is fuelled by the driving rhythm of Karl Florisson on double bass and an energetic, chaotic approach to melody and harmony with Lucky and virtuoso Jon Matthews on guitars. Joining the boys in paying tribute to the likes of Bob Wills and Spade Cooley, Jessie sings and plays the ukulele with reckless abandon, the four-piece band rolling like a steam train through the quiet Perth night!

More info
W: www.fringeworld.com.au
E:  hello@fringeworld.com.au

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Peggy Lee & Judy Garland
Calendar, Fringe World, Music, Performing arts

Music: Peggy Lee and Judy Garland

6 – 10 February @ The Ellington Jazz Club ·
Presented by Jessie Gordon ·

Peggy Lee and Judy Garland: two of the most iconic performers to ever have graced stage and screen. Award winning Perth vocalists Ali Bodycoat and Jessie Gordon bring Judy and Pegs to Fringe Worldin all their glory, from the exuberance of Judy’s ‘Get Happy’ and’The Trolley Song’ to the heartfelt melancholia of Peggy’s ‘Is ThatAll There Is’ and the sizzling ‘Fever’. Expect show-stopping solos and playful duets to pay tribute to these talented women of showbiz!

More info
W: www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/peggy-lee-and-judy-garland-fw2019
E:  hello@fringeworld.com.au

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Fairly Average Dance Band
Calendar, Featured, Fringe World, Music, Performing arts

Music: Fairly Average Dance Band: So Fresh, Still Average

1 – 16 February @ The Ellington Jazz Club ·
Presented by Jessie Gordon ·

Winners of the 2017 Fringe World Music and Musicals Award, The Fairly Average Dance Band are bringing back their favourite night of nostalgia, nonsense, and total bangers from the 80s, 90s and 00s. Bring your mediocre moves and your blandest fashion for another 90 minute Fairly Average Dance Party.

More info
W:  www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/fairly-average-dance-band-so-fresh-still-average-fw2019
E : hello@fringeworld.com.au

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Sassafras
Calendar, Fringe World, Music, Performing arts

Music: Sassafras: Under Paris Skies

18 – 25 January @ The Ellington Jazz Club ·
Presented by Jessie Gordon & Sassafras ·

Outstanding Perth jazz combo Sassafras bring their 5 star gypsy swing to Fringe World for the fourth year in a row. With a brand new show featuring everything from haunting French ballads to rollicking tearaway gypsy tunes, this talented band will walk you down the cobbled streets of Montmartre with a swing in your step.

More info
W: www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/sassafras-under-paris-skies-fw2019
E:  hello@fringeworld.com.au

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The Piano has been Drinking
Calendar, Fringe World, Music, Performing arts

Music: Lucky Oceans & Jessie Gordon Present: The Piano Has Been Drinking

31 Jan – 3 Feb @ De Parel Spiegeltent @ The Woodside
Pleasure Garden ·
Presented by Jessie Gordon ·

Join Grammy Award winning Lucky Oceans and his team of vagabonds for an evening of raucous barrelhouse blues. Featuring Spirit of Fringe winner Jessie Gordon alongside Paul Gioia and Bill Lawrie of Tin Dog fame, Barrelhouse is a band full of energy and spirit(s), bringing you the best juke joint blues this side of the 129th meridian.

More info
W: www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/lucky-oceans-and-jessie-gordon-present-the-piano-has-been-drinking-fw2019
E: hello@fringeworld.com.au

 

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Dirty Jazz
Calendar, Fringe World, Jazz, Music, Performing arts

Music: Dirty Jazz

18 – 20 January @ Duke of George, Fremantle ·
21 – 24 January @ The Ellington Jazz Club ·
Presented by Jessie Gordon ·

Jessie is no stranger to the darker side of jazz. Joined by the incredibly talented pianist Adrian Galante, Jessie delves into the depths of the dirtiest jazz tunes around for a thrilling speakeasy adventure.

There are more filthy songs about drinking, thinking and fine dining than you can poke a stick at, and none of them are safe for regular consumption. There are songs for the swooning moonshiners, those inclined to wine, those frisky for whisky and some odes to our favourite friends, those tenders of the bar. In the dark, dingy cornersand smokey recesses of the Golden Era of Swing, there are songs to address your every desire, there is room for all your dirty deeds andtime for you to unwind with a refined beverage.

More info
W: www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/dirty-jazz-fw2019
E:  hello@fringeworld.com.au

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