1 April 2016
Various frim fram
They are all (I guess) from the RMC band and I've heard them mostly doing more fusion-styled music before, but this was standards. Melody said it almost apologetically, but that's never necessary. This is the Great American Songbook (capitalised for a reason) and some of the best and cleverest popular music ever written and a great pleasure. And this done with a trio (vocals, guitar, bass) expanded to a 7-piece band with drums and a horn section. And with some clever arrangements and varied formats. The trio is Dial M and so was the septet. They were playing with a sound man and considerable reverb on vocals and a heavily effected sound on guitar (reverb and echo and drive, I guess) and mixed with the background of harmonised horns and varied solo sounds and Melody's very nicely controlled, experienced voice, perhaps somewhere in alto but comfortably managing some higher notes too, this was a great pleasure. Too bad there weren't more to enjoy it at Smiths, but so be it. The songs were a wide range, from Days of wine and rose as and Comes love and Alone together and Yesterdays and Love for sale through to some less common ones like Sinatra's Small hotel and If I only had a brain from Wizard of Oz and a strange one from Nat King Cole about what he eats, Frim Fram sauce (something local and remembered from childhood, I guess) and a few '90s swingers from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (jokey 12-bar dance throwbacks to '50s swing dancing). And two unexpected choices: a nice take on Jimi Hendrix Wind cries Mary and a love-struck ballad from Barney called All I am. Now I didn't know he could sing, but he did a very decent job with a touch of Elvis and others (see YouTube for Al Jarreau and George Benson doing this). And to top it off, some interesting arrangements, especially on the stock standards: Alone together was a syncopated 8-feel; Yesterdays had starts and stops and various time changes; Love for sale was just vocals and bass; Small hotel was not much bigger with just vocals, guitar and bass. So nicely trained players with some interesting, sometimes challenging arrangements playing a string of great songs. Well done.
Dial M are Melody Neilsen (vocals), Luke Greenhalgh (guitar) and Barnaby Briggs (bass). For this gig at Smiths, they added Julian Fung (alto, tenor), Ben Bonney (trumpet), Steve Davison (trombone) and Blair Fairbairn (drums).