Thursday, June 3, 2010

Melody Gardot Insta-Fan

On Tuesday, I read a brief interview with Melody Gardot on Women’s Wear Daily.  I had never heard of Ms. Gardot before Tuesday and was intrigued by her story, her singing style choice, and her age, but shortly thereafter became rather bewitched by her smoky, sultry voice.  A little more research and a little more than 24 hours later, I was sitting in the front row of the balcony at the Wilbur Theatre, poised to become her biggest fan.

Gardot, it should be mentioned, uses a cane and wears dark glasses as a result of an horrific car-meets-bike accident when she was 19. She used music as a therapy to deal with her year-long bed-stay recovery and is now a big supporter of music therapy.  It’s also worth mentioning that she is a tiny woman with crazy long legs and is now only 25 years old. (More of her story in video form can be found here.)

And while she doesn’t consider herself a jazz singer, Gardot perfectly captures the sexy bluesy-jazz intonation in her music - music she has written herself.   The success of her originals did not preclude her personal take on Ellington’s Caravan, The Kinks, You Really Got Me, Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, Gershwin’s Summertime and Peggy Lee’s Fever (which I kept expecting her to break into every time I heard that jazz drum sound).
Admittedly, part of my attraction to her studio music is the rich orchestral arrangement behind her.  A full string section always adds the depth of wistfulness, and brass that instant excitement.  Gardot played (sometimes whaled on) the piano and guitar. She performed with three other musicians on an otherwise sparsely populated stage.  Her band consisted a multi-woodwind talent on tenor and alto sax (sometimes at the same time!), flute, and clarinet, an amazing upright bassist, and a cool jazz drummer.  Sadly, I can’t find their names to give them proper credit here – but they were excellent. 
If possible, the music was bigger with just the four of them than it seems to be on her studio recordings.  The clarity of her words was sometimes lost among the heavy bass reverberation in my ears, but her vocal contributions to the music were always heard. It almost seems that the really terrific live jazz arrangements prevented some musical subtleties from being heard when a few players had to reproduce such a big sound. When she played alone, as in My One and Only Thrill (3rd song), the results were deliciously and chillingly intimate.
Here is her tour information.  If you have the opportunity to see her perform, please do.  You won't be disappointed.  
If she ever plays at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in NYC, it would be like a little bit of heaven on earth. And I'd like to be right in the middle of it!

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