(Spice of Life. Monday lunchtime All-Star Series. 18 October 2021. Review by Romy Summers)
This was the third of the All-Star Monday lunchtime sessions at the Spice of Life (LJN previewed the series HERE ) and yesterday’s focus was on vocalist – make that vocal phenomenon – Vimala Rowe, with a quartet of pianist Gunther Kuermeyer, guitarist Nigel Price, bassist Adam King and drummer/host/ series co-ordinator Richard Pite.
Vimala Rowe has the knack of being able to spring surprises with her vocal range and the breadth of different styles, and also the vividness with which she can inhabit and act out different characters and moods.
With Bessie Smith’s “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” the singing had power and rasp, particularly when she swoops down to a powerful and wonderfully colourful lower register. But she also acts, almost dances the song with fabulous stage energy. It was a vivid, memorable experience.
In complete contrast was “It never entered my mind” This was beautiful, deeply affecting. When singing songs that have been immortalised Rowe said she hopes to do her best….this was truly touching and sung with deep feeling. One could sense the audience being completely captivated. And a further stylistic surprise was the Swahili pop song Malaika, which Vimala Rowe remembers learning… in Hong Kong.
Gunther Kuermeyer and Nigel Price dovetailed and co-operated brilliantly on guitar and piano. Price played some commanding solos. And Richard Pite and Adam King were underpinning everything brilliantly. There was an amusing moment when Pite stepped unexpectedly into the controlling “gaffer” role, and made absolutely sure that the audience were not going be short-changed. When Vimala Rowe announced what she said would be their penultimate song…..
“Penultimate…? ”, Pite said. “It had better be a long one. You still have 20 minutes to fill!”
This Monday Lunchtime series is taking shape. Next, on 25 October, is Pete Long with Nick Dawson. Then alto sax maestro Greg Abate with Jack Honeybourne Trio on 1 November, and a Jobim day on 8 November with vocalist Iain Mackenzie and that magical Brazilian, guitarist/singer Gui Tavares.