With finger snappin’ vocals, a fedora tilted just so (to begin with anyway) and banter reminiscent of the Rat Pack, Rod Gilbert in his Compliment to The Crooners, made it all look and sound so effortless – a fine compliment indeed.
The April edition of this elegant high tea experience saw Jazz-lovers, new and old (literally and metaphorically), treated to smokin’ renditions of classic love songs and signature tunes of those celebrated crooners Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bobby Darin.
If I can’t have the Copa Room in The Sands Hotel in Vegas, in the 1950s, then The Pavilion at the Arts Centre Melbourne, is a pretty decadent way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Did I mention the champagne and sweet and savoury delicacies?
Elegantly capturing the atmosphere of the era, Gilbert’s line up included Dannie Bourne on Piano, Phillip Rex on Bass, Sam Bates on Drums and Carlo Barbaro, Tenor Sax and Golfing Partner. There’s no denying the talent of these musicians, as they played these up-tempo arrangements with clarity and finesse.
The first set featured Bobby Darin’s “Beyond The Sea”, “Hello, Young Lovers” from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, “The King and I”, followed by “How About You.” Gilbert then turned his attention to Frank Sinatra, starting with “Fly Me To the Moon.” A song (unbeknown to me) that became closely associated with NASA’s Apollo Mission (both entertaining and educational). Next up was the sweetly nostalgic, “Pennies From Heaven,” punctuated with some mighty fine scatting, then “Little Girl” and “I’ve Got The World On A String” for a big finish. As Gilbert sang, the audience broke into spontaneous applause, causing him to remark, “you like that one? You’re right, it is a beauty.”
They opened the second set with “The Way You Look Tonight”, a beguiling melody, dedicated to Frank Gilbert Senior (RIP) “ in big F.” And then dedicated Dean Martin’s standard, “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” to “all those that love a drink.” Obviously happy with the band’s performance, Gilbert cheekily mimed hitting it out of the ballpark. I have to agree, it was a ripper. Then they completely mixed up the pace by changing to a slow ballad, then a Bossa Nova classic, then “That’s Amore” with Nat King Cole’s, “L-O-V-E” rounding off the set. And for the encore, Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”, sung with exquisite simplicity and conviction.
To quote a Frank Sinatra album, the afternoon was simply Ring-a-Ding-Ding.
Arts Centre Melbourne and Linda Catalano present
Jazz High Tea – Rod Gilbert: A Compliment to the Crooners
Venue: The Pavilion | Arts Centre Melbourne
Date: 3 April 2016