Michelle Nicolle Quartet Does Mancini – Sessions – 11 January – 3.5K

By Peter Maddern

There is a disarming demeanour about Michelle Nicolle – she does not strut herself as some kind of diva – that can mask, at least for the uninitiated, her exceptional talent. The same could also be said about her subject for her quartet’s show at Sessions on Friday, Henry Mancini, who has sometimes been dismissed as a master only of pre 1960’s schmaltz.

Mancini was a great composer particularly of television and film scores (Pink Panther, Charlie’s Angels, Victor Victoria etc) and his record of awards and melodies are testament to the diverse variety of styles he commanded and which sets him apart from most others. For the lyrics to his music he engaged the best of his generation (eg Johnny Mercer) to often achieve things greater than the sum of their parts and his relationship with director, Blake Edwards, extended to over thirty films.

Nicolle’s challenge on Friday (and in her latest CD) was to interpret the great man’s works for her profoundly captivating voice without bastardising the pleasures of his musical gems. In this Michelle and her quartet did well with innovative arrangements that brought the music and lyrics new life within the constraints of her talented ensemble of Geoff Hughes (guitar), Tom Lee (bass) and former Adelaide boy, Ronny Ferella (drums) who wrapped in beard and shrouded in haunting stage lights made him appear a most formidable character.

Highlights were Days of Wine and Roses, Peter Gun and Moon River and while these (and the other songs played) were no pop renditions of the familiar, the new interpretations most successfully brought to the fore her and her band’s jazz roots.

Kryztoff Rating  3.5K

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