What better way to pass an afternoon, during Edinburgh’s current tropically unpredictable climate, than in the intimate upstairs venue of Leith Depot, with a cool beer and some pretty hot jazz?
Afternoon Jazz at the Depot, Leith Depot (Venue 214) * * * *
Canadians pianist Ron Davis and guitarist Kevin Barrett are both here as part of Davis’s highly creative jazz-classical fusion outfit SymphRONica, playing elsewhere on the Fringe.
The pair are joined at the Depot by various guests, on this occasion Edinburgh-based singer Susanna MacDonald under the auspices of the ongoing Transatlantic Happiness Project she maintains with Barrett, plus a tight rhythm section in drummer Greg Irons and double-bassist Emma Smith.
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The show maintains something of the amiable feel of a casual jam session and a wonderfully idiosyncratic sweep of song repertoire, with classics such as the passionate glide of Hoagy Carmichael’s Skylark, or a gutsy version of The Lady is a Tramp rubbing shoulders with Leith’s own Ross (aka Blue Rose Code) Wilson’s wry Edina and the haunting languor of Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat.
Macdonald is a powerful singer who can work up quite a holler – occasionally overpowering in such a cosy venue – but she brought real passion to Skylark while she and the band gave Kevin Quain’s Let’s Get Loaded some good old fashioned swing.
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There were deft solo interludes from both Irons and Smith, while Barrett’s steely yet round-toned electric guitar alongside Davis’s keyboard work were constant presences, Davis ranging bluesily through a feisty concluding rendition of People Get Ready.
Unscheduled and astonishing was the sudden collapse, on two occasions, of Davis’s keyboard stand, which at one point had him stooping to continue to play the floored instrument, unabashed. His floor piano technique may be impressive, but, next time, get the man a decent keyboard stand.
Until 25 August.