Ahhhh, picture the scene. Bright blue sky, warm yellow sun, wide green expanse of grass from which to choose a position for best viewing of the day, a lovely, lone male singer /guitarist crooning, freshly brewed black coffee in hand, and here you are – catching the inaugural Gold Coast Jazz in Paradise start of the day.
Jake Maywest band up next. Five guys doing some classic jazz – Sinatra, Martin and ending with George Benson. Jake has a great jazz voice and did a little bit of scatting. There’s some nice focus on the saxophone and keyboards. I catch the drummer doing some tricky stick moves (and dropping it once too!) (Sorry I noticed!).
The sets were short, the changes quick. We had the Brisbane Jazz Institute come down and show us how it was done around 11:30 AM. A seven piece now with a female vocalist. A bit faster paced, continuing to throw in some South American classics too. Double bass and trumpet show off, then flute. The vocalist (Toni Hepe) sings in English and Portuguese. She has a powerful voice.
There are ethnic goods and second hand CD and balloon stalls and food stalls and blowup slides for the kids. Behind the stage today is a circus tricks area for kids (and adults who still think they’re kids!). There you can play on stilts, juggle batons, and hula hoop – to keep young minds (who maybe do not believe that they are there solely to appreciate the music) busy. The Surf Life Saving Clubs have a tent as do the Vietnam Veterans Federation. The compere tells us the day is in aid of this veterans’ charity, that it is the first year and they hope to carry on this day into the future. I buy a raffle ticket, but sadly do not win the prize – a nice meal for two at a local restaurant (de Vito’s) – who conveniently do a “Martini Monday”, where you can hear live jazz on a Monday evening. It’s an eclectic mix of stalls around the edge of the Great Lawn at the Broadwater and an eclectic crowd – parents with young toddlers, right through to seniors and a few related to “the scene”.
The same band keeps playing but they switch in a new vocalist (“Ollie”). Frazer Goodman is on the keyboards. They say they haven’t played together before so testament to all the players skills, I wouldn’t have guessed. They play a nice mix of jazz, lounge and swing.
By midday all the shade spots have gone. For next year, may we request more shade? People are making use of the trees around the outside of the Great Lawn, but they can’t really see the stage from there. I notice a cool breeze coming from the ocean side. Then I notice a range of ominous black clouds coming the way of the breeze. I hope they stay away as I have been rained off an event at the Broadwater before. My tummy starts rumbling, so I check out the food stalls more closely – dim sum, greek, pizza, Mexican, iced coffee, candy floss, german sausage, thai, hotdogs and burgers. Hmmm, what to choose? I get distracted by the tinkly piano and smooth sax of another George Benson number.
The band then bring in another vocalist – a brand new first timer. She is named Maddison Apilo and she is 12! She does a cover of Fever (originally done by Peggy Lee). Maddison has a beautiful tone and holds herself well. Carry on!! I then find out it’s Mal Campbell on flute, a Gold Coast local, I believe. All the muso’s are donating their time for the cause.
Then it’s Nerang High School Funk Bands’ turn. There are thousands of them!!!! OK, that’s a slight exaggeration. There’s 6 saxaphonists, 2 trumpetters (is that even a word?), one trombonist, 8 female (and one lone male) vocalists, one bass guitarist, one drummer, one on keyboards, one on “talk box”, and a final funky guitarist. Their teacher was part of the Jake Maywest Band. How cool is that. They are all dressed nicely in black with a silky light green tie. They range in age from 12 to 17, coming from every grade year. They only do a couple of numbers: power of power and an Earth, Wind and Fire medley. It’s great to see their parents and friends turn out, I think they got the biggest crowd! With so many artists, it was difficult to mix, so some vocals did get a little bit lost behind the music, but there is a tight switch between songs in the medley. I’m sure not everyone on stage will go pro – but go Nerang high school for creating this opportunity for the young people – and go the kids for giving it their all. They cover Boogie Wonderland with nice vocal harmonies and include the Earth Wind and Fire classic, September.
My first thing in the morning artist morphs into a band. I’m not quite sure why the bass player is wearing a hard hat – jazz is not usually considered that dangerous, I don’t think. They are performing as a four piece, lead guitarist/vocalist; bass guitarist; drums; saxophone. The music suddenly got a lot rockier! During a song called “primitive urges”, the saxophonist went off. They also play a tune, “someone to love”. By 1:30 PM ,all the clouds have gone and I’m no longer worried about getting rained out. I discover the band is called Phil Barlow and the Wolf. There are lots of songs about fear, facing fear, and opening your life to opportunity. They put on a great performance and I couldn’t help thinking about how excellent they would be at the Broadbeach BluesFest in a few weeks time.
Then Georgia (ex Nerang high School herself) comes on and does three songs. Then we have another vocalist, Susan Ashton who does a few numbers. We have now what will be the remainder of the band for the rest of the afternoon, some of the key people who were playing with Ollie. The Nerang High School lead music teacher on bass guitar, “Juan” on percussion, there is a different drummer and keyboardist though, as well as two guitarists and the saxophonist, who I later find out is called Woody Clark. Both Natalie and King Cole songs feature. By 2 o’clock in the afternoon I’m feeling for the band, now that they’re the ones in full sunshine! They sing “Cry me a river” and “Got you under my skin”. Robbie Ropati comes on with some soulful jazz and we now getting things like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s going on?” As they say, the songs message is still applicable to todays times.In “Nothing but a woman”, the saxophonist ran hot and the vocalist belted it out, the keyboardist showed his wares as well. The last song is from Boss Scaggs. Then we have Terrence Chedler, with an original, “Sticky feelings”, I think. The song talks about clear skies and sunny days. Yet, that’s what is all about…..
As the afternoon comes to a close, the main band jams, trying to get some audience participation with the “EE – oh!” song and “the lion sleeps tonight” – maybe throwing in a little bit of calypso jazz?! However, sad to say, there is minimal audience participation by that stage. As the day closes, I hear the final words of the final song… “isn’t she lovely…”? Yes, it was, and I want to thank all of the musicians and mixers and set up and pull down people and all the stallholders for a lovely day. Long may Jazz in Paradise continue. Get down to it next year…..
This review was written by Kim Wood for GC Live.