Sound Lounge, November 16
Don’t miss this show if it returns. It gives a too-rare chance to hear pop singer Jade MacRae reveal her potential to be the finest jazz vocalist Australia has produced.
This was the second incarnation of Bloodlines, a collaboration between MacRae, her pianist father Dave and her vocalist mother Joy Yates, accompanied by bassist Craig Scott and drummer Nic Cecire. Where the edition of two years ago concentrated on songs penned within the family, this one drew more on the standard repertoire, especially material popularised by Carmen MacRae and Sarah Vaughan.
In other words this was Jade poaching on her esteemed parents’ patch, and in the process showing that all those pesky skills and black arts – from conveying a lyric to scatting; from liquid phrasing to harmonic nous – were in place. She tore apart a sultry, blues-oozing Moanin’, and on a gorgeous Prelude to a Kiss bowed graciously to Vaughan without descending to slavish imitation.
A particular highlight was Cherokee, which is a stern test of phrasing, given how the sparse melody must be floated over the hurtling pulse without losing momentum. MacRae did it brilliantly, and then flew into an exhilarating improvisation that made gravity a foreign concept.
She also relished duetting with her effortlessly expert mother, including on Doodlin’, the wicked Woman Talk and an enchanting No More Blues. Yates, meanwhile, was at her very best on Round Midnight, showing her singular ability to make a song at once breezy and intense.
It is unsurprising that Dave MacRae has a keen instinct for accompanying the two women in his life, and his solos were crammed with complex melodic knots that he magically released back into a rhythmic stream kept buoyant by Scott and Cecire.
Inevitably not all songs worked equally well. Who Knows trod water, and Jade was initially too tentative in a duet with her father on Monk’s Ruby, My Dear, but more bold scatting settled her, and she nailed the rest of it.