Everything It Could Be, Kennedy Snow joins Nina Ferro and a string quartet, 7pm Friday 9 March 2018, The Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre.
Melbourne drummer and composer Sonja Horbelt took great care with the line-up for this outing with vocalist Nina Ferro, ensuring that it was, in the words of the final piece played, Everything It Could Be.
Acclaimed R&B and jazz vocalist Ferro joined Kennedy Snow — Horbelt on drum kit, pianist Bob Sedergreen, saxophonist Kellie Santin and bassist Kim May — along with Steve Sedergreen on keys, Janine Maunder on backing vocals and percussion, and string players Atilla Kuti violin, Lisa Reynolds violin, Lauren Segal viola and Karoline Kuti cello. It proved to be a formidable combination.
The power of Ferro’s voice in this acoustically superb space meant we did not need convincing that, as she sang “This is the place I want to be” in the opening song, Sunshine, she meant it.
The ballad Last Days of 33 ushered in the lush, full sound of the string quartet, embroidered for a time by piano and followed later by a duo of bass and piano. Again Ferro demonstrated we were hearing a big voice in a small space, with agility and strong vibrato. “Maybe it’s awesome, how things used to be,” she sang, making us think they still were.
The foot-tapping I’ve Made Up My Mind demonstrated the good vibe in this ensemble, Bob Sedergreen looking on with obvious enjoyment as Santin made brief forays and the strings added body as they seemed to carry both vocalists on a cinemascopic journey.
In Follow, title track of Kennedy Snow’s album, Ferro’s invitation “Can I tell you a story my friend, let me reveal what I know” was delivered with ease, the words clearly articulated and expressive. There were more sweeping vistas from the strings, subtle and beautiful sax, and punchy piano gleefully injected.
The string quartet played a different role in Another Time, their contribution stronger yet more sparse. Solos from Steve Sedergreen and Santin could have been longer, I thought, and the drums a tad less strong from where I was sitting, but this was a nice piece.
There were no strings in A Different Life. “Just imagine a new way forward,” Ferro sang to the faster tempo, Horbelt’s drums firing up and going for it with Steve Sedergreen underpinning powerful work by Santin on alto and May on bass interacting with Ferro in a vibrant, energetic finish.
A new tune, appropriately named Like All Things New, began with sombre piano as Ferro sang, “There’s a change has to happen for this life to go further, all seems so simple at first …” This was a beautiful ballad, quieter and yet with an intensity that made applause for Santin’s alto sax solo seem intrusive.
Ferro’s vocals in Intuition were delivered with dynamic variation and free-flowing power, calling to mind the drama of vocalist Jeannie Lewis. A musing, meandering solo by Santin preceded a building of intensity towards a tight finish.
The appreciative audience applauded wildly after the final Everything It Could Be, an upbeat piece with a strong beat and appealing melody. No one needed convincing that Nina Ferro, Kennedy Snow and the string quartet had indeed delivered a performance that was everything it could be.