The Perth International Jazz Festival is in its third year and features 52 performances in 19 venues over the WA Day long weekend.
Penny King is a well-known Perth singer with a deservedly fine reputation. She is possessed of a lovely voice, wonderful vocal clarity and impeccable phrasing. Her fondness for the compositions of Joni Mitchell lead her to create, together with pianist Tom O’Halloran, this excellent show which has played the Ellington Jazz Club and was yesterday reprised in the delightful Urban Orchard.
Opening the proceedings with the beautiful “My Old Man”, King’s lilting tones roamed and soared to achieve the technically difficult Mitchell song style. To begin with she was only accompanied by the marvellous Tom O’ Halloran. What a virtuoso keyboard artist. His work is thrilling.
Moving on to “The saddest Christmas song ever.” King brought a lovely purity of tone to the hallmark Mitchell story-telling song, River.
Time to introduce the rest of the band; a crème de la crème ensemble; Carl Mackey on sax, Pete Jeavons on bass guitar, Simon Jeanes on lead guitar and Danny Sussinger on drums.
There was a wonderful chemistry onstage as well as with the appreciative audience. King wove a terrific narrative around the numbers and there was plentiful happy interaction between the band members.
The gorgeous love song “A Case of You” was followed by the Mitchell’s evocative, growing up in the 50’s, work “In France They Kiss on Main St”.
Local songstress Victoria Newton and ingenue Ellie Korn joined forces on vocals with the band to close the first half with the eccentrically amusing Charlie Mingus number ”The Drycleaner From Des Moines”.
Some more of the more popular mainstream Mitchell works appeared in the second set, Black Crow and the perennial favourite Both Sides Now which was a wonderfully realised duet between King and Jeanes.
Welcoming back to the stage the full ensemble plus backing singers, King launched into an interesting lyrical arrangement of “Woodstock”. It was an ensemble piece par excellence.
After a couple more numbers, Carey and Twisted, it was time to close and the hugely popular anti-development Big Yellow Taxi was the perfect vehicle (sorry!) to choose. A longer arrangement allowed for solos by all the musicians and excellent they were. It was a fitting finish to a highly enjoyable afternoon’s entertainment. Plaudits to James Newhouse at the sound desk. Outdoor sound is never an easy mix. It was pitch perfect.
The day was an Autumnal delight. Sunny. Fragrant flowering plants in bloom. Bees buzzed. The music was equally delicious.
2015 Perth International Jazz Festival
The Music of Joni Mitchell
Venue: Perth Cultural Centre | Urban Orchard
Date: 31 May 2015