There will be many very happy lovers of jazz in Brisbane this morning. The aura of euphoria these jazz lovers are emitting is thanks to James Morrison and the Queensland Music Festival. Morrison with his special guests Megan Washington and Marian Petrescu gave Brisbane audiences the ‘jazz one night stand’ of their lives, that no one is likely to ever forget.
From the second Morrison and Petrescu played their first notes on the trumpet and piano there was no doubt the music was going to thrill, amaze, delight and exceed all expectations. Morrison, Petrescu and Washington together and individually gave Brisbane a spellbinding evening. In this mix was drummer Gordon Rytmeister and bass player Phil Stack who also added to the alchemy that achieved the onstage magic.
Morrison’s banter kept the audience in the loop, musically speaking, and also informed those whose ears were new to either Petrescu or Washington, his stories of how they met and the connections they’ve fostered since. The musical chemistry the three created was a joy to experience and it’s doubtful that there are currently any musicians in the world who could compare to any of these artists on trumpet, piano and vocally.
To the initiated Australian jazz patron no introduction is needed for Morrison. Petrescu (I’m sure) would be well known to jazz aficionados, however, for many it was their first experience of Marian’s astounding skills on the keys. His fingers danced ecstatically, his body was one with the piano, his brilliance was hypnotic to witness and the sound is uniquely his. Morrison shared the story how this Romanian born, classically trained pianist first discovered jazz by listening to an Oscar Peterson record. The inspiration Peterson has been to Petrescu is obvious, yet Petrescu’s style is all his own. Morrison and Petrescu have just released their own recording, A Fine Bromance (yes this is the name of the album, I kid you not). Their live performance was divine, indulgent and giddying and I’m hoping that listening to their album will be as much as an intoxicating experience as their live work.
Washington would hopefully be well known among many an Australian music lover, with her regular appearances on Spicks and Specks over the years and her own successful indie-pop recordings. Washington, like Petrescu and Morrison, has her own unique style and can’t be neatly pushed into one definitive genre. Her musical journey, with beginnings in Brisbane as a jazz graduate from the conservatorium, is evident in much of her solo work. Washington’s voice is alluring, soulful and distinctive with tones that can sound dark, deep and wistful and then swing up with grace, delicacy and clarity. Megan delivers lyrics with an honesty that is almost conversational. To hear Megan’s popular work explored spur of the moment (because James Morrison thought it would be great to hear her gorgeous song ‘To Or Not Let Go’ as a jazz number) was an exceptionally rare treat and is something that will never be heard or experienced exactly as it was in last night’s performance. Because it’s jazz, live, half scored and half improvised, with phenomenally talented and equally skilled musicians, the audience was gifted an unbelievable and incredibly authentic experience.
James Morrison’s performance with special guests Megan Washington & Marian Petrescu can truly be called a once in a life time event. No two concerts will be the same, even though some songs on the set list (like Ellington’s ‘In a Mellow Tone’ or the standards ‘Love me or Leave me’ and ‘Slow Boat to China’) might be played in other cities around Australia as the show tours, there are no guarantees with jazz and musicians of this caliber when they play together. The only guarantee these performers can give their audiences is that live jazz doesn’t get any better than this.
2015 Queensland Music Festival
with special guests Megan Washington and Marian Petrescu
Venue: Concert Hall, QPAC | Grey St, South Brisbane
Dates: 31 July, 2015
Tickets: $99 – $30