The nine piece band settled on the stage and the Musical Director and founder of the Perth Cabaret Collective, Jess Herbert introduced us to the concept of the group. “I’m young but I’m experienced. The Collective lives to make music, and more importantly the music and style directive of their founder and leader – me.”
The show was a clever concept, allowing even jazz newcomers to recognize songs from their youth or even sung by people their parent’s age. Especially when accompanied by a subtle verbal introduction about the history of the songs and that of the chanteuse.
The really excellent band was comprised of Alex Parkinson trombone, Ricki Malet trumpet, Matt Smith trumpet, Gemma Farrell tenor sax, Erin Royer alto sax, soprano sax and clarinet, Jess Herbert baritone sax, rhythm section James O’Brien piano, Kate Pass on bass and Cameron Fermoyle on drums.
The first soloist to grace the stage was Lucy Iffla. Talented beyond her years she gave a superb version of Blues in the Night. Unfortunately, being over-miked, the band dominated. This number, as was the whole show, so over loud as to preclude full enjoyment of both ensemble and vocalists. So disappointing as all were of first class quality. Iffla’s lovely voice only audible in the very few quieter moments of the song.
Iffla was followed by Leah Guelfi who moved up the pace with a funky version of Second Hand Rose and followed with the sultry Nina Simone number I Put a Spell on You (Because You’re Mine).
Enter Cougar Morrison. A self-confessed drag queen from Midland (a lower socio-economic suburb, if you’re not from Perth). Tall and lanky, sinuous in sequins, she vamped the room opening with a sparky version with Here’s to the Ladies Who Lunch. After a delicious Ain’t MisBehavin’ by Iffla, we enjoyed the gorgeous Willow Weep for Me. A total change of pace was her take on Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose with a nice trumpet solo and a lovely unaccompanied sung introduction. Her purity of tone and her length of note is exceptional.
By then we were primed for some stunning Eartha Kitt. Morrison’s voice plumbed the husky depths and her timing was spot on. Having changed into another sequined concoction of blue and gold, Morrison voted herself in as the Eagles new captain!
The Man that Got Away a classic by Harold Arlen, could only belong to Garland. It was a heartbreaker sung by Guelfi. A medley of Barbra Streisand numbers followed. Trumpeter Alex Parkinson was credited with the superb musical arrangements.
The finale was a beautiful version sung in tight harmony by all three vocalists. Happy Days are Here Again combined with Come on Get Happy. A gorgeous interweaving and one of the loveliest arrangements ever.
If not for the dreadful instrumental sound overload this would have been among my top shows of the fringe. Sadly due to many other Fringe review commitments this reviewer could only make the final performance of this show.
Good news follows however, Perth Cabaret Collective will present another treat SPECTACULAR, SPECTACULAR.
Perth Fringe World 2021
Brassy Broads 2.0
Perth Cabaret Collective
Venue: The Ellington Jazz Club | 191 Beaufort St Perth WA
Dates: 22 January 2021