|Gabrielle Ducomble at the Bulls Head, Apr 2015|
(Bulls Head, SW13, 2nd April 2015. Review by Sebastian Scotney)
Gabrielle Ducomble knows what English audiences want her to sing, and it definitely includes some Edith Piaf songs. So when the Belgian-born singer lands on that first guttural “r” in “quand il me prend dans ses bras” from La Vie en Rose, she does it with just the right emphasis, a knowing smile; because we Brits are going to fall for it every time, gulp, cheer, or just silently turn into “gelée.”
Last night at the Bull’s Head, with pianist Alex Hutton, a former musical associate, this was a happy re-connection (faultless), bassist Nick Kacal (always subtle and supportive) and saxophonist Kelvin Christiane (it was his first time with this material, you’d NEVER have guessed) she was performing in front of a full-ish, cosy Bulls Head music room, and she showed quite what a strong and persuasive singer she is. The musicality and the presence have always been there, but the concentration, conviction and control that she brings to a slow, drawn-out melodic line now make her something very special. The slow opening verses to How High the Moon and That’s All were compelling. And her Trenet “Que Reste-t-il?” had the audience spellbound. These days she doesn’t need tricksy Rubik’s cube arangements to hide behind, because her instinctive sense of exactly where a melody should be headed is so unerring.
Get out the diaries: there goed nieuws coming from Belgium later in the year: Ducomble will be bringing over Belgian drummer Mimi Verderame‘s Trio, which includes Brindisi-born, Belgium-based pianist Nicola Andrioli – he works in a regular duo with guitar legend Philip Catherine, bassist Hendrik Vanattenhoven. They are performing twice in London: