Bangkok Jazz Festival: Days 1-3
The highlight of Marie's set was an undeniably beautiful and quite personal rendition of "You Were Always on My Mind." Rasmus Solem lent very effective support on Rhodes and vocals. A crowd-pleaser was the inclusion of one of King Bhumibol's many jazz compositions, the dreamy "Falling Rain." Unfortunately, the music from the second stage intruded, which in Thailand is possibly tantamount to lèse majesté.
Rising star singer-songwriter Melody Gardot has achieved considerable critical acclaim for her first two recordings, but live is where best to hear her music. The finger-snapping opener, with Gardot a commanding presence at the front of the stage, showed that a Phily band swings hard. The only non-Phily boy, New York reeds player Irwin Hall, lent chittering flute lines to the perfect set opener.
Anyone expecting or hoping for faithful renditions of the songs from My One and Only Thrill (Verve, 2009) would have been duly surprised. Gardot's plucking of the piano's innards, dissonant note splashing here and there, irritable saxophone growling and ominous cymbals made for a powerful intro to "The Rain."
Gardot imbues her songs with a smoldering intensity and a touch of the theatrical. Hall's blowing of two saxophones simultaneously recalled Roland Kirk in a rousing Brazilian infused intro to "Les Etoiles." The switching on of the Milky Way lights at precisely the beginning of the song was a simple but most effective touch.
Strumming a brilliant red Gibson guitar, Gardot brought an intimacy to "If the Stars Were Mine" and "Somewhere over the Rainbow." Bassist Steve Beskrone and drummer Chuck Staab on brushes lent gently swinging accompaniment and Hall's flute brought a lilting cheer to two outstanding performances.
"It ain't no church but it ain't no funeral either. You know what I'm sayin'?" was Gardot's gentle cajoling of the crowd in response to its less than animated part in the vocal call and response part of "Oh Lord." The crowd was in better voice when it came time to call the band back o stage for the encore, a brilliant version of Juan Tizol's "Caravan." Gardot's arrangement alternated hard swing with softly voiced vocals and the effect was to inject the excitement and sense of the exotic that Irving Mills lyrics intended and which so many versions fail to deliver.
Donning the top hat which had sat front stage through the entire set, Gardot thanked the crowd and exited with a swing in her hips and a swagger in her stride as the band played on.
Page 1: 1 = Ian Patterson; 2 = Agus Setiawan Basuni/WartaJazz.com
Page 2: Vavaratee Na Chiangroong