It will be straightforward for US-born Cécile McLorin Salvant to entrance a crowd with a night of pure jazz and blues requirements. She has a voice able to lulling, like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Vacation flowing collectively in a cliché of date-night and dinner-party excellent preparations. The viewers would go away soothed, realizing they’d been masterfully dealt with by an artist in full possession of her powers.
As an alternative, on a sultry October night time in QPAC’s Live performance Corridor, Salvant took us on a capricious journey via her eclectic repertoire, from her personal compositions to old school delights resembling ‘Using Excessive’ and never one, however two present tunes from The Sound of Music. Her 2023 Australian tour is a uncommon probability to see a grasp of her artwork taking part in with the uncooked supplies: her band and her viewers, and privileging dynamism over consolation.
A beneficiant and fascinating performer, Salvant begins ‘Haunted Home Blues’, a Bessie Smith favorite, with a gleeful whoop that lets us know we’re in for a spooky deal with as she hams it up for the gang. Salvant’s exaggerated facial expressions and dancing palms converse of a lifetime immersed within the bodily storytelling traditions of her Haitian ancestors. At 34, her stage persona is ageless, skipping from the cutest five-year-old to the don’t-mess-with-me grandmother and so many iterations of the soulful, craving lover in between.
This stagecraft brings a sweetly accessible component to even her more difficult numbers.
She imbues ‘Barbara Music’ from The Threepenny Opera with vaudeville pathos after explaining that when she first heard and fell in love with it, she didn’t think about the true plot of Brecht’s play, however chooses to sing it as she first felt it.
She presents us her personal beautiful composition, the aching, dreamy ‘Moon Music’, then rounds on the viewers with a mischievous glint. She tells us a good friend as soon as inspired her to incorporate a really feminist music in her set. Salvant’s flagrant response is Burt Bacharach’s jaunty ‘Wives and Lovers’, torn aside and gleefully strung from the ramparts, all however unrecognisable.
She follows this up with a hell of a trip, taking ‘Till’, a ballad Sting wrote for the 2001 film Kate and Leopold, and letting her musicians – Sullivan Fortner on piano, bassist Yasushi Nakamura and Kyle Poole blissing out on the drums – actually present their chops. What a pleasure to observe them run wild, to attempt to observe alongside and to absorb the pure chemistry between all of them.
The ensemble catches their breath, cruises via Salvant’s lyrically vivid unique ‘Fog’, and pulls themselves collectively once more for the acquainted, accessible ‘Using Excessive’ earlier than stunning us all with ‘How Do You Remedy a Downside Like Maria?’ (her ‘third favorite music’ from The Sound of Music), and rounding it out with ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ (her favorite).
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For encore, Salvant strides again onto the stage and delivers one other completely sudden deal with, ‘Getting Married Right now’, a patter music from the 1970 Stephen Sondheim musical Firm. She leans up in opposition to Fortner’s piano, checks the lyrics and lets rip with such breakneck velocity and apparent pleasure that the QPAC viewers was jellied into each giggles and awe. And as we gathered ourselves to applaud, Salvant departed, realizing we couldn’t presumably ask for something extra.
Cecile McLorin Salvant carried out at QPAC for one night time solely on 24 October 2023.
She might be performing on the Melbourne Worldwide Jazz Competition on 29 October, The Metropolis Recital Corridor in Sydney on 31 October and the Perth Worldwide Jazz Competition on 2 November 2023.