Lisa Michel - Shaken & Stirred
This CD is infused with remarkable jazz substance, which features some of Australia’s top jazz musicians. These include:- Bob Barnard (trumpet), Kevin Hunt(Piano)Col Loughnan (tenor sax), Bernie McGann (alto sax), James Greening (trombone), Chuck Morgan (guitar), Andrew Dickeson (drums), Fabian Hevia (percussion) and, of course, Lisa Michel (vocals).
It is sweet, subtle, bold, hip shaking, moody and raunchy. Lisa and co-producer Phil Punch have thought about the dynamics of the whole production and so we go from jazz moments of the earliest genres to the bebop era. Musical arrangements are by some of the best in the business, Andrew Robertson, Mal Francis and Evan Lohning.
Lisa is an experienced singer with silky threads in those vocal chords. She can ascent to any note and vocally gets down and kicks the dirt (and tin cans too)! The trick is that Lisa has many voices. She is not afraid to give them expression in any of her performances. Not a singer with one ‘stamp’, but many and that is the beauty of her vocal journey.
There is a smoothness and sparkle in her voice. Tap a polished crystal glass until it sings and you will get the point. Her voice is pure, no hint of being battered by life (excuse me; there’s nothing wrong with those voices). Her story seems to come from the joy, goodness and surprises of life’s many experiences. Her vocal approach treasures delicacy of tone and when necessary - it’s earthy juxtaposition.
There are 18 numbers on this CD. The mood and production allows the listener to get ready for ‘the show’. Opening with ‘As Long as I Live’, ‘East of the Sun’, ‘Something’s Gotta Give’, ‘Memories of You’ (this one is sweet and moody with Kevin Hunt giving us his sensitivity), ‘Shine’ (upbeat and fun), ‘You Make me Feel so Young’ (nice swinging smooth riffs from Chuck Morgan).
Suddenly we are in the 30s and listening to the singer. Is is Adelaide Hall or is it Lee Wiley? Another influence is definitely living in the song ‘Don’t Worry About Me’ – a duet by Bob Barnard and Bernie McGann oozes richness and blending tones. The Latin feel of ‘Pick Yourself Up’ is hip swinging. ‘Riding High’ is snappy and sharp with the best driving beats of Andrew Dickeson. The great standards ‘Over the Rainbow’, ‘Blue Skies’, and ‘The Best is yet to Come’ are smooth and a great feeling is conveyed. The instrumental interlude of Kevin Hunt's solo piano piece, a medley, ‘Here’s that Rainy Day/Put on a Happy Face’ touches and soothes the deepest part of the heart. However, I kept returning to 'It's a Good Day'. This is more than a Christmas trifle! It’s the best musical conversation I have ever heard played by such a gifted bunch of musicians. Every one has something to say and more.
Andrew Dickeson sets the beat. James Greening signals the anarchic breakaway to ‘Storeyville’. Riffs and chords champion the new direction and we are totally in the moment. Originality, precision and power demand liberation. All instruments seem to tumble in; the beat changing and the dynamic continues. The room’s on fire! Grinding riffs farewell any hint of predictability. Tantalising, shaky, nimble, relentless musical conversations converge - a part of naughty/nice chaos. No humility, just the best flexing of jazz chops and muscles teaming with bounce, vigour and individual stories forming the collective sound.
Congratulations Lisa. What a huge amount of work, dedication and joy you have given us all, putting this together. One is left with more than a smile on their face. This CD gives so much joy. Unashamedly, it is Australian jazz – the light, sun, sea, desert, mystery and the anti-authoritarian attitude, all wrapped in one as they say. DIANA FAITH (JAS Sydney Aus)