September 2007

Blue Martini Jazz
September 20, 2007 Capitol Event Theatre Toronto
Setting the Night’s Tone Indigo
by Carol Lipson with photo by Roger Humbert

In the candlelit and elegantly refurbished Capitol Event Theatre, Jeannie Mackie and Pat Perez set the night’s tone indigo on Thursday, September 21 with selections from Blue Martini Jazz, their collaborative CD.

Mackie has created a balladeer chanteuse image and sound and framed that musical persona with her group and CD titled Blue Martini Jazz. As a vocalist, Mackie reminds her audience, in this fast and frantic age, of the power of intimacy. For Mackie, the quiet revelations are note-worthy; the note sustained is the one that lingers in memory. Her late-night mood vocals are suggestive of the kind of smooth singing my teachers used to drum into my head as optimal: “Imagine a string of pearls,” they would say. Towards the end of the set, Mackie widened her dramatic range, playing the coy feline in “One More for the Road,” and belting it out in “You Go to My Head” with a dynamic that lifted the audience.

Saxophonist Pat Perez does more than collaborate with Mackie. He responds in rich, joyful tone. He teases, curves around Mackie, beep bops, bringing multiple dimensions to the interpretation. What he contributes is expansive and spontaneous. An important part of the jazz experience is anticipatory — an audience listens all the more closely to music-in-the-making. Perez satisfies the craving moment by moment.

Jeannie Mackie
A vital ensemble of musicians supported the pair full-heartedly Thursday evening. On drums, Terry Clarke grounded each piece. No wonder Clarke has spent so much of his career in studios. He is such a confident, reliable and inventive player. Neil Swainson highlighted his walking bass line in “One More for the Road”. Mark Eisenman on piano rollicks, trips lightly over the keys, enunciates each note. Enhancing the melody, he never misplaces the essence of a song, but rediscovers it. Finally, Eric Boucher on electric keyboards added a haunting quality to the Joni Mitchell cover, “Blue Motel Room”.

Of course, the band’s name is suggestive only. After those sax and vocal lines seeped in, I left the club in something of a dreamy state… A little mellow from the wine (if not the martini) but not blue at all.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Carol Lipson
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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