Archive for the ‘Roberta Flack’ Category

Jose Carreras and Roberta Flack play Adelaide

February 9, 2009

 Thanks to Andrew Robertson:

So a couple of weeks ago it was Neil Young, Jeff Back and Leonard Cohen.

This week’s fare was Jose Carreras and Roberta Flack, both of whom played with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (separate concerts on separate nights). Quite an eclectic couple of weeks!

The ASO is a great orchestra, who just a few weeks ago played Carnegie Hall in New York. They often do collaborations like this – I have seen them with Herbie Hancock, Billy Cobham doing a Mahavishnu Orchestra set, Kurt Elling the jazz crooner and scatter, The Whitlams (great Aussie band), and so on.

Sometimes they mesh well, other times they don’t, but I think this is more about the way the featured artist chooses to use them. Roberta Flack was a case in point – she didn’t really use the orchestra effectively, or at least, I didn’t think so. So there was a bit of a sense of missed opportunity.

Carreras still has a fine voice, but to be honest I think I would rather see him in an opera than in concert. Reason being that he only ever sang two songs at a time, then went off stage – no doubt to rest his precious voice and fair enough, but it meant that the concert never gathered any momentum. The stop-start nature of it meant that it was hard to get emotionally involved and after all, isn’t that what makes the concert experience?

When he went off, Fiona Campbell, an Aussie mezzo-soprano, sang and she was very good too. Or sometimes the orchestra would play a piece on their own. It was all good, and hard not to be impressed by, it’s just that it was like an exhibition performance rather than a real music experience – a bit like the difference between watching an exhibition tennis match and a Grand Slam final, the tennis might still be good, and the players might be the same and therefore as good as ever, it’s just that the atmosphere, tension and excitement are different.

Roberta Flack on the other hand got a real vibe going in the second half of her show. The first half was only half an hour and seemed to be over as soon as it had started.

But the second half was an hour and she had a great band who really cooked once they got going. The band comprised drums, bass, keyboards, an outstanding horn player and two singers – I was going to say “backing” singers but they were really more than that.

The horn player played sax, clarinet and flute and he was the star of the show – although the drummer came close. The bassist played a five string bass and there being no lead guitar, he often played bass as if it was a lead instrument, not just part of the rhythm section.

Roberta Flack played piano and while no virtuoso, she was good. And her voice was excellent, especially for someone in her 70s).

This concert varied between very smooth middle-of-the-road to good lounge jazz, but was always engaging. The favourites were all good, and delivered with feeling. She didn’t do Hey That’s No Way, but having heard Leonard Cohen himself sing it a couple of weeks ago, that was fine by me.

She said she is making a Beatles album and I thought, don’t tell me she’s going to play A Day In The Life as well, but no, she did Here Come The Sun in a very interesting, slow, jazz-inflected interpretation. Probably my highlight of the night.

Nothing booked for next week (what am I going to do?!) but John McLaughlin and Chick Corea the week after that – really really looking forward to that one!

 

Andrew in Adelaide

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