REVIEW: Georgia Mancio / Alan Broadbent Songbook album launch at Ronnie Scott's

Alan Broadbent, Georgia Mancio in 2016
Photo credit: Carl Hyde


Georgia Mancio / Alan Broadbent Songbook album launch
(Ronnie Scott's. 3rd April 2017. Review by Brian Blain)


What an amazing vibrant and completely sold out Ronnie Scott's last Monday week to welcome Georgia Manciofor her first headline show since she first 'appeared' at the same venue some seventeen or eighteen years ago as a waitress, when she became inspired to follow a musical path in the footsteps of so many of the artists she heard in this most famous of jazz venues. First appearance in the club also for New Zealand born pianist Alan Broadbent, who has worked with Charlie Haden's Quartet West, conducted for Shirley Horn and Diana Krall, and produced a half dozen albums by Natalie Cole as well as accompanying the legendary Irene Kral. Along the way he as acquired Grammy nominations for numerous jazz albums by his own trio and worked alongside major artists such as Michael Brecker and Lee Konitz

As he confided to the audience, he had brought to the table a number of compositions,some years old, written in the classic idiom of the great American song writers, but it had taken Ms Mancio to add the kind of lyrics that he had, perhaps unconsciously, been looking for. For me that meant neither the me-me-me of angsty self absorption of the arty end of contemporary rock song writers nor the 'I Love You and You Love Me' or the Dry Martini wit of the classic Broadway show school of Porter and Rodgers and Hart.

Beginning with a strong melody, The Journey Home conveyed a characteristically poignant mood that surfaced in several songs: one that was particularly touching, Where the Soft Winds Blow about waving to an old neighbour through his window while passing by, and then discovering he was no longer there to greet. A small gesture of life affirmation and friendship ended. The inexorable passage of time seems to mean a lot to Mancio and the recent deaths of both her and her partner's fathers also produced strongly affecting pieces.

Forever, however, a slowish waltz made me smile at the thought that 'the young think that they'll stay young forever'-sharp and thought provoking. A jazz bossa, Someone's Sun , and a samba encore allowed bassist Oli Hayhurst - beautiful sound throughout-,and drummer Dave Ohm to really spark and crackle behind Broadbent's Latin-voiced chords. Georgia Mancio does 'bright' as well as anyone and One for Bud, a tribute to piano great Bud Powell , with its fiendishly twisting lyric would have put a smile on Annie Ross's face without a doubt.

On song after song Broadbent just oozed the kind of understated class that derives from complete mastery of virtually every kind of jazz in existence and on Small Wonder it was great to hear Ohm and Hayhurst fall in with the master and produce that mature, relaxed time feel that comes from playing just that more often with your partner-in-rhythm.

A wonderful night of jazz for grown-ups that owed more than a little to the man on the sound desk (Sahan Satis),and which ended with that kind of applause that made you feel that you had been in on something special.

LINKS: CD Review of Songbook
Podcast interview with Georgia Mancio
Interview with Alan Broadbent from 2014
Review of Quartet West in London in 2011

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