11 October 2018

CSO's Divas and Crooners project a labour of love for jazz vocalist

| Ian Bushnell
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Jacqui Hamilton will join with Rod Gilbert and the Canberra Symphony Orchestra on 20 October for the Divas and Crooners Matinee at Llewellyn Hall. Photos: Supplied

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra has brought Victorian vocalist Jacqui Hamilton back to her first love – jazz.

Hamilton and well-known jazz musician and singer Rod Gilbert will take to the Llewellyn Hall stage on 20 October with the CSO for its Divas and Crooners Matinee, an afternoon of smoky jazz classics with a little Latin leavening.

It won’t be the first time she will team up with the CSO, but it definitely won’t be a case of ‘here we go again’ for Hamilton whose alter ego for the past 13 years has been Frida from the Abba cover group Babba.

Hamilton was so enamoured with last year’s Symphony in the Park gig with Babba, that she basically said to the CSO’s Andrew Heron ‘take a chance on me’ with a proposal for a classic jazz concert.

That was almost 18 months ago and with only days till seeing her plans come to fruition, Hamilton says she can’t wait.

“I didn’t realise until we got the video of the Babba performance how massive it was, and I had such a good time on stage. I wanted to do that again,” Hamilton said.

The Victoria College of the Arts trained vocalist had always wanted to perform a Nelson Riddle -arranged orchestral jazz concert so she pitched the proposal to Heron, who thought it was a great idea.

The idea evolved from there, bringing in Gilbert and tweaking the repertoire to include well-known standards such as Straighten Up and Fly Right, Autumn Leaves, Mack The Knife, Fly Me to the Moon, Come Fly with Me, Baby It’s Cold Outside and Old Black Magic.

Gilbert has been performing live since the age of 16 and is now a firmly established vocalist and drummer. He often finds critics comparing his smooth warm tones to the likes of Sinatra and Bobby Darin and his drumming style to that of Art Blakey, Max Roach and Ed Thigpen.

Musician and singer Rod Gilbert.

Hamilton says the pair performed the show at smaller jazz clubs in Melbourne as part of their preparation only to find themselves in demand for a regular spot at one venue, while she has been sought out to sing with a big band.

“This whole one matinee gig that I’ve organised up in Canberra has sprouted other things for me to go back to what I love to do. So I’m just overwhelmed,” Hamilton said.

Canberrans can expect a warm, witty and intimate experience with raconteur Gilbert providing effortless charm and Hamilton paying tribute to her diva heroines Edith Piaf and Judy Garland.

They will also mix the genres with some Latin rhythms, including The Girl from Ipanema by Antônio Jobim.

But jazz is Hamilton’s passion musically.

“They put these lyrics and melodies together that were so complex and beautiful, evergreens, the kind of tunes that you just don’t get sick of. You can immerse yourself in one of these songs, and you can bring to it your own breath, your own time, own story and tone,” she said.

“The song is the vehicle, something egoless to it,”

Hamilton says the audience should have fun and fall back in love with the music that they hear and want more of it. “That’s how I feel when I hear jazz,” she said.

The CSO will welcome conductor Marc Taddei back to the podium as guest conductor of this concert. Taddei is a renowned conductor with experience across many different music genres including classical, opera, ballet, and film. Taddei has conducted the CSO across their various concert formats in years past, and frequently conducts orchestras across New Zealand, the United States, and Australia.

The show starts at 2 pm. For more information visit cso.org.au or call CSO Direct on 6262 6772.

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