I went to the opening night of Amanda Tiffin‘s newest show, Now You Has Jazz, last night, at the BMW pavillion (there where the IMAX used to be). I took my friend T along, musical stuff especially cabaret style is not Big Friendly’s favourite.
A bit of Meg’s moan before I wax totally lyrical here: The problem with the venue is that it’s so completely unmagical. You arrive on a bright neon car floor, icy cold and white tile clean and then make your way into a hugely raked auditorium. It looks like the kind of place you’d go to get a bit of corporate motivational speaking. This makes it really hard to warm and sparkly up. Added to which, is the post office person who hands out the tickets from her tiny booth. I have no idea what the world has done to her, but she treats everyone like they were common crooks who had managed to skemonkel their way onto the guest list. She makes it very hard and unpleasant even to get your tickets.
Now You Has Jazz is really is a treat. Amanda Tiffin is amazing. Her tiny big band is fabulous. Trumpet, double bass, drums, guitar and keyboard. The show is a ramble through the history of jazz, with great examples and a good choice of famous standards. Jazz is not my first choice generally, but there is so much to just enjoy in this crowd pleasing show. Amanda leads a heart wrenching acapella Swing Low Sweet Chariot, a magnificent Billie Holiday song, a sizzling Pata Pata, a thumping Al Jarreau’s Bring your Boogie Down, a strange and haunting (accompanied by flute) tribute to Sarah Vaughn Summertime just to name a few. Amanda really shines with this material. She looks gorgeous, sounds like an angel and has the vocal range and confidence to take her songs everywhere. She skats and improvises at the end of the first half like nothing I have heard before.
The show is deliciously long, with two solid halves. The musicians shine. My favourite is Shaun Johannes on bass, although to choose is actually a crime. Go see it. You’ll see. It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got the swing.