Georgia Mancio: ReVoice!
"I've recently developed a newfound love for singing the Beatles' songs. Some of their lyrics are so quirky and originalreally well written and crafted. A lot of jazz musicians still seem quite snobby about their songs, but they are great. It doesn't matter if they only have a few chords. The lyrics can be really, really special. That might not be something an instrumentalist thinks about; singers probably look at songs differently."
It may well be that singers consider the impact of the words more than the complexity of chord changes. "Yes. Sometimes it's great to do things in different ways, but sometimes a song has to be done in a certain way to best serve the lyric. If you don't have the words, a tune can become a great melody to blow over. It almost doesn't matter if a heartbreaking ballad ends up as an up-tempo swinger if the lyrics are taken away. For me as a singer, some songs are best served as they are, as they were intended to be originally."
The ReVoice! Festival
A successful career as a jazz singer takes plenty of time and energy to create and maintain. Organizing a festival is hardly the easiest job in the world. What drove Mancio to combine the two activities? And why? "I'm still asking myself that," Mancio says, laughing at the thought. Whatever the reasons might be, there's no doubt that the festival has grown year on year, with the 2012 ReVoice! program building on the size and scope of previous years.
"The first one wasn't called ReVoice! I only started using that name last year. In the first year, I had no real intention to organize a festival. It started for a couple of reasons. The first was David Linx [pictured right], a fantastic Belgian singer. He hadn't played in the UK, so I asked a couple of promoters if they might bring him over. Nothing happened, so I thought I would do it myself.
"Then I thought about some of the singers I've been influenced by and wanted to see in the UK. Rebecca Parris was one; Maria Pia de Vito was another. I thought it was absurd that they didn't have a presence here. So I got a vague notion to do something. I also wanted to do a residency, a few nights where I could play with different groups of people each night: I thought it would be lovely to settle into a club and do that. I took Ian Shaw's annual residency at the Pizza Express in Soho as the model for that idea. So I approached Ross Dines at the Pizza Express. He was really positive, suggested I go away and think about things and let him know my ideas. I have to say, if he hadn't responded in that way, I don't think things would've happened. I contacted the singers, who were all really up for it. We put together a five-night program called "Georgia Mancio Presents." I played support sets each night with people I knew and felt comfortable with."
The project was a success, gaining Dines' support and advice. "He suggested moving to later in the year and making it longer. I wanted it to have more of an identity, make it clear it was a vocal festival, so ReVoice! was born. For 2011, the festival extended to nine nights. The name was established; it even had a logo."
Mancio's support sets have become a feature of the ReVoice! Program. Electric bassist Laurence Cottle, double bassist Michael Janisch (pictured right, with Mancio), pianist Nikki Iles and guitarist Jim Mullen have all joined the singer on stage.
"I really grab the chance to develop my support slots, performing each night with a different musician as a duo. Each slot is only half an hour, so I can push the boundaries of it, work with people I wouldn't normally get to work with. It's opened up new possibilitiesI find that side of ReVoice! as exciting as anything else. Also, I'm supporting such incredible artists that I have to perform my best, put on a show."
As the festival grows so, too, does Mancio's list of duo performances. Combining work as the festival organizer and as the festival's regular opening act requires some delicate time-management skills. "Unfortunately, my performances tend to get left until quite late. I always book the main artists first. I've got a list of people I want to perform with. Some of them have been on it for three years, and we still haven't managed to hook up. Some of the previous years' support spots worked so well, I want to do them again, but I'm forcing myself to do new things each year because it is such a great way to work.