Georgia Mancio - Jazz's Popular Vote
The public voted with their feet last Thursday (25/04/2013) at Twickenham Jazz Club by standing on them and applauding without constraint. In my short time as TJC's in-house artist this was the most positive response I have seen for any group. Sometimes you keep it simple, a trio, purity of voice, skill and intensity, the stars collide and BANG!
The performance had started much earlier in the day with a hot topic on the online agenda. Just that morning Big Bear Music had announced the nominations for their annual 'mainstream' British Jazz Awards (including TJC's Henry Armburg Jennings, and the eminent Julian Stringle). Despite not being nominated, tonight's guitarist Nigel Price had urged his friends to vote, citing it as a popular poll where the public had a chance to show their appreciation for once. He wrote,
He was challenged on this point by Jazz royalty's free spirit Gabriel Garrick,
‘The less we vote the more likely it is for the whole "jobs for the boys" mentality or cronyism to creep in.’
‘Don't believe the hype!!
Awards only serve to further any existing exclusivity within any given area. They only reinforce more of the same dumb behaviour: that of encouraging blind following.’
Nigel is never one to sit on the fence and his reasoning that followed was well balanced but unfortunately too long to reproduce, so here's a snippet,
‘...it's still a totally open vote and if we get enough people to cast theirs then it could turn into a true representation of who and what musicians and non musicians alike find most worth applauding on a national scale.
What's wrong with that?’
Both had a point of course, Big Bear had pre-selected or chosen the nominations, so its wasn't entirely a free vote and yet here was a chance for our voice to be heard. An opportunity I grasped with both hands, well, at least my two digits on my laptop keyboard.
To metaphorically 'live or die' in front of an audience, Nigel Price has laid down the gauntlet this evening. With just three performers on the stage, there was nowhere to hide, although the mood lighting meant they operated like cold war spies in a purple tungsten glow. This was the cleverest of performances, full of
subtleties, the trio tonight played their hands with a deftness that teased the crowd in front of them.
Georgia Mancio sat well back from the stage's edge, as though succumbing to an intolerance of 'The limelight.' This only pulled the audience forward and many of us sat with elbows on knees. Earlier in the week I had sketched the multi-instrumental-voiced singer Jan Ponsford for Mr Rainlore and Mancio's voice felt gentle in comparison. First impressions can be deceiving, it seems her power isn't like a wave that crashes over you but that lapping Mediterranean kind which casts the mind adrift into playful daydreams.
Nigel Price is a hard man to read visually, particularly this evening, when he was flanked by the tall figure of Larry Bartley and willowy Mancio. This made him look like a grumpy garden gnome who was fishing for imaginary carp, an image that was totally dispelled once he reeled in the audience on the end of his guitar hooks. He looked happy. Excelling on Latin intricacies, like the samba styled Coots tune You go to my head. His solo on That old black magic was granted a standing ovation from TJC dude Colin amongst others.
I've drawn Larry Bartley before at Alex Hutton's Friday Nolias residency and knew I was in the company of a fellow artist, so I hope my drawings will find his approval. Larry and I weren't the only artists in attendance and I managed to get a quick sketch of an intense Zoran Matic.
Twickenham Jazz Club favourite Kelvin Christiane joined the trio for a superb Stanley Turrentine finale on soprano and then chaos ensued. Price had earlier urged the public to vote for their heroes and his plea hadn't fallen on deaf ears. They stood and kept applauding until an encore was granted, confusion reigned because of Mancio's imminent
Stansted flight to Germany and the Jazzahead Festival/Conference. She sacrificed her precious sleeping time and gave the people what they wanted.
Later that night a bewildered Nigel Price commented,
‘The crowd literally went mental!
It was a bit disconcerting in a way.
Well you asked for the people's opinion.
They voted for you, Georgia and Larry.
We still stand up for what we believe in!
Alban Low is Rainlore's World Artist in Residence.
© 2013 Rainlore's World/Alban Low. All rights reserved.
First published on Alban Low's Art Of Jazz blog 2013/04/30. © Alban Low. All rights reserved.