Jazz gigs are a touchy affair sometimes. You can get enamoured with the music that comes from the stage, but at the same time, once it goes too far it can all become a wank. On the audience side of things, you can either get a crowd that is responsive to a small degree, or a bunch of middle-aged men talking about business deal s rather than enjoying the jazz.
In the end, this wasn’t really a “jazz” gig, but tonight was an interesting meld of all of what I mentioned in that first paragraph when I ventured off to Bennetts Lane to see Natalie Gauci. There were people who you could see were total industry heads, milling around talking to everyone and anyone, and people listening intently to the music. This kind of stuff really sets an awkward setting in an environment where you should be listening quietly, and there were moments when that did happen. For some inexplicable reason though, there were periods through the night where groups just decided to bark up in a chorus of chatter sometimes.
But lets overlook that anyway, because the actual entertainment coming from the stage was eclectic to say the least. Jade Leonard played a collection of cabaret inspired tunes; both standards and originals were tackled with good humour. I really enjoyed how some tracks Jade performed had subject matter that was kind of left-of-centre. Songs about Ruby Rose and wanting to take revenge on ex’s seemed unusual when played by one person with a soft, delicate voice and a piano, but it was quirky and playful. Jade really warmed with the crowd as well, encouraging people to check in to Facebook during her set, something I’m sure those jazz purists would have scoffed at once upon a time. A beautiful rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” finished off one of the more fascinating support acts I’ve seen in a while.
A mix of various styles kept coming when Natalie Gauci came on stage. Her bubbly personality shone through both her songs and her interaction with the crowd as well. This is one thing I love about live music, but is also lacking at the moment within Australia – bands having a connection with the audience. It makes for a more enjoyable experience, people! But aside from the wonderful stories about failed Sony contracts and contributions to forthcoming movies, she gave us a wide gauntlet of tunes of various styles. From the jazz of “How High The Moon” to the sweetly beautiful “Sad Eyes”, we got a dynamic, versatile Natalie on stage.
She and her band made sure that we were having a bit of fun as well, with a rhythmic percussion jam called “Sex” towards the end of the set. Nodding heads were everywhere, and even clapping was heard in rhythm to the songs. I really shouldn’t be surprised by that, but this was a jazz club! Because of this, I was wowed, I suppose. When the encore came around, Natalie warmed the room with a wonderful version of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. Jazz gigs don’t come as diverse as Natalie Gauci’s set at Bennetts Lane last Sunday.