29 January 2024

So nice to come home to

It seemed a strange experience to hear James playing with Dial M.  I play with him frequently and yet I heard more when I was in the audience than when I'm playing.  Maybe I'm usually too busy with my own playing although hopefully responding in kind, or maybe he was just playing differently in this context.  Maybe it's a comment on my listening.  Whatever, he played wonderfully and hugely enjoyed  the complex and shifting colours in his harmonies and clear flows and structures in his solos.  Blues pianist Leo was there and commented on harmony and talked of more studies with more time and we both commented on the shelves of books we each had that probably held guidance on all this.  But back to Dial M, they were playing a Cole Porter tribute entitled Songs of love and Loss with five lovely players and some guidance from charts and just the pleasure of the Cole Porter songbook.  Melody Neilsen was singing, strong, involving, so intimately phrased.  She mentioned at the end that she'd dropped the refrain from Night and Day into the start of I've got you under my skin.  I knew both but just felt some incongruity; Megan had recognised the tunes.  Mostly the songs were played with the quintet of Melody and James and Barnaby Briggs and Stephen Richards and invited friend Rouslan Babajanov from Sydney.  Melody obviously enjoyed the interaction and we all felt the joyous playing and presence of Baba: not showy but beautifully smooth and expressive and nicely responsive, including between Melody's sung lines.  Then Barnaby on bass, fluent and beautifully tone (playing with a mic rather than pickup) and sometimes quite explosive with lines that floored me and one solo accompaniment for Melody in Love for sale and Steve, so nicely solid and present and delightfully fluid in one solo with brushes.  The backgrounds of these people showed, capable and easily understated but just delightfully right and apt for the night and the music of Cole Porter and just occasionally explosive for a solo or two.  Such a great songwriter and such a worthy tribute.

Dial M played a tribute to Cole Porter at Smiths.  Dial M comprised Melody Neilsen (vocals), Rouslan (Baba) Babajanov (tenor), James Woodman (piano), Barnaby Briggs (bass) and Stephen Richards (drums).

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