Live reviews

Sheila Jordan/ Cameron Brown + Didi Kern/Rudi Fischerlehner at Porgy & Bess (Vienna)

Didi Kern/Rudi Fischerlehner, Strenge Kammer stage

Sheila Jordan & Cameron Brown (main stage)

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Didi Kern/Rudi Fischerlehner, Strenge Kammer stage

(Porgy & Bess, Vienna. 6 April 2022. Double Review and phone snaps by Oliver Weindling)

Sheila Jordan and Cameron Brown

At 93, Sheila Jordan is a wonder.

One of the last alive to gig with Charlie Parker, every gig for her now is clearly a ‘bonus’: she delights in it for herself but also for us. And this came through in her performance at the start of a European tour in Vienna. A similar energy is something I experienced when I was lucky enough to hear Kirk Lightsey in February.

She is not just an exceptionally fine raconteur, she is also in full control of where her voice is today, and how to make the best of it. Meanwhile she keeps her whole line-up a total simplicity and directness. With just Cameron Brown on bass she has a perfect partner – much more than just a sideman. She has a springboard to launch us into the stratosphere, fired by every note reflecting jazz history.

Her programme is not just anchored in the bebop tradition, and standards. So, on the one hand, we were treated to songs like Lush Life, a dance medley which is a tribute to Fred Astaire, and versions of tunes by trumpeters, such as All Blues by Miles Davis and Fair Weather by Kenny Dorham, But, on the other, she opened with the Beatles’ Blackbird and included songs by Don Cherry to which she has added appropriate lyrics, made all the stronger because both musicians have Native American ancestry. When I first heard her about 30 years ago at Peter Ind’s Tenor Clef, she was of course already an elder statesman. And when she recorded a live album with Cameron Brown in 2005… Now more than ever she must be treasured.

Rudi Fischerlehner (left) and Didi Kern (right)

Earlier that evening, I heard in the “Strenge Kammer”, Porgy and Bess’s small experimental room, two drummers improvising alone and together. (The gig as advertised HERE would also have included Mark Holub of Led Bib, but unfortunately he had Covid.) Didi Kern, who played first, had more of an implicit drummer pulse continuing through, the playing on his drums embellished by extra gongs, some bugle and whistling. Rudi Fischerlehner complemented this approach, as much more of a percussion improviser with a great variety of sonics and reverberation. So that when they played together at the end, their two approaches dovetailed well together.

LINK: Porgy & Bess website

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