Perth International Jazz Festival: Kate Ceberano and the PIJF All-Star Big Band

Kate Ceberano and the PIJF All-Star Big Band was billed as the “Jewel in the crown” of the second Perth Jazz Festival and it was certainly no exaggeration. The evening was magical.

Kate Ceberano Image by Chantel Concei
Kate Ceberano
Image by Chantel Concei

The opening act, The Julien Wilson Trio, was comprised of three excellent musicians, Bill Russell , Stephen Magnussen and Stephen Grant, who surprised and delighted the audience. They were an unusual combination of saxophone, guitar, and piano accordion, but they worked beautifully together. Interestingly Stephen Grant is a pianist but as Russell explained to the audience “The accordion is his instrument of choice for the evening!” The pieces were lyrical, moodily evocative soundscapes. In the second piece there was an almost fugue-like quality to begin with which lead into an alluring playful tune. It was an auspicious start to the night.

Kate Ceberano took to the stage in a glamorous black one shouldered gown by Perth’s own Aurelio Costarella. Its fishtail hemline gave Ceberano plenty of chances to skip enchantingly ’round the stage.

It was an exuberant show. Her voice has matured since her teenage debut at the Festival of Perth. It has always been lovely but now it is simply gorgeous. Her phrasing is terrific and her personality as bubbly as ever.

The PIJF All-Star Big Band were fantastic. A sixteen piece band with a solid horn section, featuring Graham Wood, Troy Roberts, Matt Jodrell, Jamie Oehlers, Jordon Murray and James Sandon, and conducted by Mace Francis.

It was an evening of standards. Wonderful numbers given the jazz treatment. ‘The Very Thought of You’, ‘My One and Only Love’, ‘I Only Have Eyes for You’, ‘Night and Day’, ‘My Sweet Embraceable You’ and ‘They Can’t Take That Away from Me’ were in the set list. Romance was definitely in the air but so was swing. The songs were all stylishly rendered and featured excellent solo work by the principal players.

Between songs Ceberano expressed her delight at being back in Perth and said how impressed she was with the state of jazz here. She invited the audience to meet her at The Ellington, Graham Wood’s fabulous jazz bar. As an encore Ceberano gave us a personal favourite that she used to listen to very often when she was just starting out. It was ‘Under an Orange Colored Sky’, made famous by Billie Holiday.

The audience was warmly responsive and Ceberano finished the evening with a joyful rendition of ‘Sunny Side of the Street’.

A wonderful time was had by all, audience and performers.

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