Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dan Whieldon & Alice Zawadzki - Manchester Jazz Festival 2012

Dan Whieldon & Alice Zawadzki, St Ann's Church. Wednesday 18th July 2012.

Jaw droppingly good is no overstatement for this special duo concert I had the privilege of attending today. From the very first note of the first piece, Alice's sensitive vocal improvising interweaved with Dan's contemplative piano playing in a way that was genuinely captivating, this introduction leading into 'Para Ti', a light and airy latin composition from Dan. One of many highlights from the set was Alice's 'You as a Man and I as a Woman'. Her voice managed to communicate a brave and touching expression of feelings on the topic of obsessional love in a way that most singers would struggle to get close to.

Alice Zawadzki (photo by John Quinn)
Alice doubtless has great technique and clearly knows her jazz genres well, but what especially impresses is a strong sense of rawness, edginess and 'real'ness that makes the performance so much more convincing and touching. I really hope this is something she can hang onto as she continues to learn and develop. Dan is also a master of solo and duo playing, providing the perfect partner, with his exceptional playing.

Photo by John Quinn
Blues, ballads, swing and grooves were all covered with finesse, but perhaps the highest point was the final track before the encore, 'Low Sun Lovely Pink Light', which opened with a beautiful piano and vocal improvisation that moved through some difficult sequences and modes, both musicians making the technical journey whilst sounding totally convincingly and in touch with the music. The track developed with some crisp strong playing from Dan, Alice backing with some sweetly melancholic violin. This one really had it all. Catch these people before they get to playing the big venues, because there's a damn good chance they will be, and soon.

The concert was also a very special day for jazz festival visitor Suzy Duncan who, following an operation earlier this year, regained her hearing after being deaf for a quarter of a century. Today was her first live music event since the late 1980s. Read more on the MJF Facebook page.

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