Live at The Counts
There is a beauty in jazz when the great American songbook is taken, re-interpreted and done just right. This evening on the grounds of Monash University, in an intimate room Melbourne’s beloved queen of jazz Mama Alto does just that.
Opening with Cry Me a River, the Ella Fitzgerald classic the room is hushed into a silenced awe with only a simple piano to accompany her Mama Alto takes the well worn number and makes it her own.
Re-inventing songs that have been sung in jazz halls for decades and making them something that is fresh and unique is something Mama Alto brings to all of her renditions, from Nat King Cole classics to Billie Holliday, Mama Alto breathes a refreshing new life into timeless jazz classics.
Moving through to the second set, she opens with the well known Fever, albeit a more slowed down and almost sensual version of the classic Peggy Lee song, transforming it into a fresh and beautiful number.
When the opening bars of ‘What a Wonderful World’ drift out over the room, one can almost for a second hear the graveled tones Louis Armstrong floating above, yet Mama, again slows it down and turns the song into a hauntingly beautiful if not slightly mournful version. Its strangely appropriate that she chooses to sing it this way, after the Pandemic that shall not be named has made people become a little detached from how wonderful the world really is, and its a fitting way to sing the number.
Ending the evening with ‘ Send in the Clowns’ the Steven Sondheim number Mama Alto has bought us out of our lock down coma, her voice the perfect antidote to soothe the soul, just the elixir needed. With the simple compositions and her beautiful soprano voice Mama Alto is nothing short of a breath taking pleasure to watch. Her voice intoxicating, the simple piano is the only thing she needs as her tribute to the American Jazz songbook concludes.
From her unrehearsed on stage banter, to her gentle vulnerability, Mama Alto is delight to watch.
Words by Amanda Lee Starkey