Friday, August 10, 2012

CJP: Gian Slater & Invenio

Yes!! I got to this after all!  When all hope seemed lost my evening unexpectedly opened up, and thus I took myself down to the Street Theatre to catch Gian Slater and Invenio performing Gone, Without Saying; the only session of the Capital Jazz Festival I managed to catch.

Without a programme (I hate it when there are no programmes!) it was quite difficult to follow. While it's billed as a single work, it is also divided into movements, of sorts, but given the unusual nature of the music and the light choreography, it's hard to know what's the end of a movement and what's merely a pause. So applause was a bit sporadic and uncomfortable, and I suspect I could have taken away more meaning than I did with a bit more explanation of the work.

The choir is beautiful. They harmonise faultlessly and the timing is impeccable. And the sounds they make wander well outside the box; Slater's composition has various members at different times burbling into ceramic pots, buzzing into tinfoil, and making divers percussive noises. It's very effective once you're immersed, but also vaguely silly if you start thinking about it too much.

Gian Slater herself has a light, sweet, deft voice, with an almost coloratura reach; a bit unfashionable in a world that favours the sort of finger-waving belters commonly seen on TV talent quests. She scats gorgeously. I was glad to finally have had the chance to hear her sing.

This was a fascinating piece, but for something so unusual, it was also oddly bland. The choir is dressed all in pale neutrals, and while the effects vary, the overall tone doesn't. It's beautiful, but also a bit whale-song new-agey. It's true that jazz is a very broad church, but I didn't get the surge of happiness and energy that I get from what I usually think of as jazz; this piece could as easily have fitted in to a contemporary classical concert or a world music festival.  It didn't make want to move the way jazz did; actually it nearly soothed me to sleep. 

It's a lovely piece, and I'm glad to have heard it; but not enough to wait around after for the autographed copy.  And I'm still hanging out to hear Gian Slater swing some Great American Songbook someday!

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