25 January 2009

First cousin, once removed

If Leo Joseph is a first cousin, then DeeJay Gosper is first cousin once removed. Or thereabouts. They are both blues influenced, and both use jazz-trained players in their bands. But DJ’s a little more white rootsy or folky in her style. Less dirty down south blues and sometimes verging on lighter influences. It’s serious in its own way, but further from the heart of the jazz tradition.

Nonetheless, DeeJay’s live broadcast on ArtSound was a competent and satisfying affair. Leo (dirty blues cousin) was sitting in for the first half, and the rhythm section comprised Raf Jurjen and Aidan Lowe (close relatives, jazz branch). But the feel was determined by DJ with her voice and occasional blues harp and offsider guitarist/vocal harmonist Englishman, Christo Carlsen. The band goes by the name of KarismaKatz. The website just gives bios of DJ and Christo, so obviously this is the defining core of the band. And it’s a busy band that presented a capable, honest, bluesy performance. There was some jazz, if at the smooth end of the spectrum. There was a gentle, comfortable swing on Comes love (tamer than Shirley Bassey’s big band version which DJ said had inspired her). I like that song, and also Leonard Cohen’s Dance me to the end of love. (It’s a great song, but I’m tiring of Leonard Cohen in every paper you open. SMH yesterday reviewed two LC novels, recently reissued. I read one a good 30 years ago, and it wasn’t new then. Now they are clearly an expression of another era.) I didn’t recognise too many tunes from the repertoire, but I only have eyes for you and I don’t mean a thing are known to CJ. Otherwise, these are tunes from another songbook. Still American, still black, but with some influence from white roots traditions, with sweet paired harmony voices and open emotional expressions. But the evening ended with Sensitive kind, a heavier blues with the opportunity to let go. A move towards black roots to end the night.

KarismaKatz are obviously nowhere near the avant-guard end of the jazz spectrum, but DJ presents a competent band, has a long history in the blues scene, and the frequency of gigs shows her popularity and commitment. Nice one, DeeJay. Thanks and enjoyed.

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