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Vince Jones and Orquestra do Brasil. Melbourne Recital Hall. Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Saturday June 10, 2017.

Review by Greg Phillips

The impeccable quality of sound which the Melbourne Recital Hall offers can be both a blessing and a curse for both the audience and performers and to be blunt, not every musical enterprise is suited to the venue. While as a concept, Vince Jones‘ tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim, From Ipanema to the World on Saturday night had the earmarks of a great show, I’m not so sure that the Recital Centre was the right space to deliver it. The credentials of the musicians Jones had gathered for the evening, the Orquestra do Brasil could not be questioned and Jones is undoubtedly one of Australia’s greatest vocal stylists. Jobim’s classic melodies are wonderful too but if there is no Latin pulse beneath the music propelling it along, then there’s a danger of it coming across as elevator soundtrack, especially at a venue which highlights the negatives as much as the positives and unfortunately, for much of the evening that’s what occurred. Brazilian born bass player Jorge Alberqueque has Jobim in his DNA but could barely be heard in the mix. Likewise, Jones’ vocal was blended much too uniformly into the band sound and should have been showcased. The result was pleasant rather than inspiring as it could have been if as much emphasis had been placed on the percussive elements as the melodic. The band seemed a little rusty as well, taking a few songs to get in total synch with each other. It wasn’t until the band vacated the stage, leaving Jones alone with pianist Matt McMahon in a gorgeous rendition of Dindi, that the full affect of Jones voice, Jobim’s classic material and the hall’s acoustics, combined to convey some magic. However, the show was far from being a train wreck, there were moments when the integration of Gideon Brazil’s flute and Alistair Parsons’ trombone provided a joyous representation of an authentic Latin sound and bandleader Doug DeVries often supplied the most sublime of Spanish guitar solos. Yet somehow as a whole, it lacked the spark required to lift the performance to the level of memorable. In my opinion, a smaller, less revealing venue may have been a better consideration for this kind of material but to be fair, there seemed to be as many people in the room who greatly appreciated their 90 minute jazz festival experience, as those who like me, found it merely pleasant.

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