Close your eyes and you could be at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York.
Australia’s own Janet Seidel recently turned the big six-o and is going stronger than ever, having spent 41 years as a performer.
Her album, The Art of Lounge is a lovely compilation of songs that she and her band, which includes her brother, David Seidel on bass, have performed at the many residencies they have had at high-end hotel lounges and cocktail bars in Sydney and overseas.
This includes Sydney’s Sheraton Wentworth Hotel, Manly Pacific Hotel, Darling Harbour Park Royal, Four Seasons, Shangri-La, Boulevard Hotel, Adelaide Hilton and Terrace Hotel Adelaide.
Volume One has a romantic and sulky feel while Volume Two is more upbeat and makes you want to get up and dance.
Janet Seidel grew up listening and studying Jobin and Sergio Mendes and wonderful vocalist Lani Hall from Brazil 66, and she pays homage to this influence in her wonderful laid-back rendition of To Say Goodbye on Volume One.
A prominent walking bass by David Seidel helps give this song a nice groove.
Mas Que Nada (but that [is] nothing) has been one of Seidel’s favourites since she heard Brazil 66’s rendition years ago, and here she gives it a samba feel, which is just persuasive enough to make you want to get up and dance. The soulful voice of David McLeod creates a lovely mood.
Seidel’s take on Gershwin classic, I’ve Got A Crush On You is languid and relaxed.
Her gentle voice is sultry and suggestive, and is beautifully accompanied by Kevin Hunt on an electronic keyboard.
Hunt also features in the duet, Fools Rush In, where the piano ebbs and flows beautifully with Seidel’s sensitive phrasing.
A big band intro sets the tone for a hypnotic Latin treatment of I Got Lost In His Arms by Irving Berlin, which conjures old world glamorous images of women with 50’s beehive hairdos dancing arm in arm with gents in tuxedos.
Gee Baby was made famous by the great Ella Fitzgerald and Louise Armstrong and Seidel brings a smokey jazz club feel to it by, including an electronic Hammond organ played by Col Nolan.
The song, ‘Black is the Colour‘ is a folk song based in the Appalachian tradition and is by John Jacob Niles. There’s many different arrangements and versions, but the melody and the poem are by John Jacob Niles.
A lovely string accompaniment sounds like a rippling stream in the countryside, and creates a lovely cushion for the words, black is the colour of my true love’s hair…’
The wistful and lonely old cornet played by Tom Baker in Love for Sale was only possible after the band decided this song about love after dark needed its lonely call…so they waited in the studio until midnight for Tom Baker to come in and record it with them.
The result is a beautifully haunting song about the dark side of love of the night.
‘A Royal Welcome’ to The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace in London this Summer will be sure to please both locals and visitors to England at the same time.
Each year the Queen and her family welcome many visitors to the house for special reasons; private audiences, garden parties, Investitures, public receptions, visits by Heads of State and so forth.
This year for the first time, those visiting during the Palace’s summer opening program will be able to view special displays from the Royal Collection throughout the State Rooms.
The aim is to reveal the detailed preparations that go into preparing State Rooms for these very special occasions.
The Royal Collection is one of the largest most important fine and decorative arts collections in the world.
It is spread out over some 13 royal residences and former residences within the United Kingdom.
Each year The Queen as host welcomes some 110 Heads of State from all around the world who come on formal state visits to Britain.
These take some twelve months in the planning and involve staff at ever level.
Food and wine selection are as important as choosing what HRH will wear.
A selection of frocks and the jewellery worn by The Queen on some of these occasions will be an important aspect of the display.
State Banquet’s and great dinners are held in a variety of the Palace’s rooms.
For the summer the Palace’s Ballroom will see the preparations for a State Banquet by the use of time lapse film technology.
The great table will be shown gradually being dressed with glittering silver-gilt centrepieces and stunning candelabra plus all the accoutrement’s required for the meal, as well as the finished result.
Wonderful pieces from ‘The Grand Service’ on display including a stunning centerpiece and a pair of superb candelabra made by arguably one the greatest of the English goldsmith and silversmiths Paul Storr (1771-1844).
The centrepiece is one of a set of four that were acquired by George IV when he was Prince Regent and like the candelabra are knock your socks off in terms of quality, design and craftsmanship.
It has a central bowl in the form of a convolvulus flower, on a foliate stem with a wreath of flowers and four scroll branches.
They are entwined with flowers, terminating in similar bowls.
It’s a true delight.
Now I know I was supposed to talk about Madrid this week, but I have decided to regale you with tales of the Basque country and leave the capital and largest city of Spain until last.
So here we go
The three last stops on our tour of glorious Spain would be the Basque region, specifically Vitoria Gasteiz, Bilbao and San Sebastian.
For many of you, the Basque capital Vitoria may not sound familiar.
What I can tell you is that once you’ve experienced the food in the city, it will be on your radar forever.
Bars groan at the weight of pintxos just begging to be tasted.
Our airbnb …
Susan Graham Mezzo-Soprano will join with the Australian Chamber Orchestra for a French Celebration 11 – 22nd July, 2015. This intimate concert features select musicians from one of the world’s most lauded chamber ensembles, with Karen Gomyo on Violin, Ike See on Violin, Christopher Moore on Viola, Timo-Veikko Valve on Cello and Christian Hadland playing the piano in a selection of music at a time when beauty and innovation were important aspects of La Belle Époque. The beautiful era in Europe c1890 to 1914 was when France and its European neighbours were at peace, when art and design flourished and music became accessible to a wider audience than ever before.
Susan Graham has been rewarded by the French for her fine interpretation of French music. She was made Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur dans l’Odre des Arts et des Lettres, one of France’s most prestigious awards. Her ability to master a range of repertoire and formats admired, she has sung at inaugurations for Presidents, received a Grammy award, had a day named after her in her home state of Texas and been a delegate for UNESCO. She’s one of a kind and here in Australia her program consists of songs from La Belle Époque, when the invention of the gramophone meant that lovely melodies and romantic songs performed in the Salon could be recorded.
The New York Times says “Ms Graham is at her best in French, the tangy, nasal quality of which ideally complements her creamy tone.” She will be singing a repertoire from La Belle Époque that includes French composer Maurice Ravel’s settings of three poems by Stéphane Mallarmé, whom he considered to be France’s greatest Symbolist French poet, along with Ottorino Respighi’s setting of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s lyric poem, The Sunset.
During La Belle Époque inventions made life easier at all social levels, the cultural scene thrived, cabaret, cancan, and the cinema were born, and art took new forms with Impressionism and Art Nouveau. Art and architecture in the style of this era in other nations is also sometimes called “Belle Époque” style. From London to Paris to Vienna, Susan Graham sings in all the European capitals. Susan Graham says “My choices of repertoire have all been governed by whether or not the role and the music speak to me. If I don’t love it, I can’t commit myself to it. The main thread is musical integrity and if it has a musical lyricism and a singability. I’m a sucker for a nice melody – I love a good tune!”
Susan Graham will arrive in Australia fresh from a string of phenomenal successes, most recently having conquered that ‘Mount Everest’ of a role, Didon, in Berlioz’ Les Troyens at the San Francisco Opera. Her ‘expressive tone and heartfelt performances’ are renowned. Join A French Celebration – Susan Graham with the Australian Chamber Orchestra Newcastle City Hall, Saturday 11 July, 7.30pm, Sydney – City Recital Hall, Tuesday 14 – 18th July at 7pm, Melbourne Recital Centre, Monday 20 July, 8pm, Adelaide Town Hall, Tuesday 21 July, 8pm, Perth Concert Hall, Wednesday 22 July, 7.30pm – BOOKINGS
Poetry and music in the age of La Belle Époque come to life as America's favourite Mezzo-soprano celebrates all things French with Australian Chamber Orchestra
'A Royal Welcome' to The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace in London in Summer 2015, will be sure to please both locals and visitors to England at the same time
The stage musical version of The Sound of Music is coming back to Australia from London and will be surer to woo a new generation of theatre goers to its favour
Far from the Madding Crowd is a sensitive film abounding with images, which find a mirror in every mind and with sentiments to which every bosom returns an echo
Combining contemporary and classic, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa Contemporary Circus will both perform to music from Baroque master composers