Shannon Marshall Trio – Saturday May 29 2021

A chilly, late Autumn night by the Brisbane River…and inside, a red-hot Brisbane trio; Shannon Marshall on flugelhorn and vocals. Dale Rabic on Hammond, Wurlitzer and bass pedals. Paul ‘Hitman’ Hudson on drums.

These three supremely talented musicians are great mates and a great combo. And while Shannon and Dale have been playing together for much longer, they were joined by Paul about 15 years ago. However, it has been 5 years since they played in this combination. So, tonight was something of a reunion.

And oh, it was worth the wait!!

They kicked off the night, and immediately set the bar high, with a bright, soul-touching version of ‘Work Song’, a tune by Cannonball Adderley’s younger brother, Nat, who is a favourite of Shannon’s.

And then, through two powerful sets, they entertained us with a sparkling mix of driving instrumentals, reimagined standards, and cruisy vocals from Shannon.

‘Is it too early to do something funkeeee?’ Shannon asked. And because  it’s never too early for funky…they gave us George Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’. Like we’ve never heard it before.

Later, Shannon asked, ‘Do you feel like some Jazz or some Soul?’  When ‘Soul’, was the resounding response, Shannon replied with a smile, ‘Then what are you doing in a Jazz Club?’. And then gave us sweet and soulful renditions of Ray Charles’ ‘Hallelujah, I Love Her So’ and Reverend Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’.

What a set-list, with soooo many highlights….

For the Mancini/Mercer classic, Days of Wine and Roses, no vocal was needed. The voice was in Shannon’s sweet and dreamy flugelhorn.

Muddy Waters’ ‘Got My Mojo Working’ started with rimshots from Paul…and in no time, all three of them had their…and our…mojos working overtime!!

Dale’s two keyboards featured big on the Beatles’ ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’. And they be-bopped through Monk’s Straight No Chaser.

They all cried the Blues on Etta James’ ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’, and were in a reflective mood for Antonio Carlos Jobim’s, ‘Corcovado: Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars’.

There was even a touch of Gospel, with Wade in the Water’. And if you are on your way to Heaven, then this has got to be the way to go!!

Their signature song…Bobby Hebb’s ‘Sunny’…was built up slowly. Dale set the scene and the ‘atmos’ with his keyboards, his left foot on the bass pedals, and his right foot on the big wah-wah pedal. That was followed in by Shannon’s vocal and flugelhorn. And then in came Paul’s drums.

And wow, what a surprisingly big sound!! You can’t help but wonder just how a threesome is able to do it.

There are the lead instruments, of course; Dale’s keys and Shannon’s horn and voice. And there’s Paul’s always-there, in the pocket, backbeat and fills.

But take a closer look. And notice Dale’s flying feet.

That pedal board, across which his stockinged feet are constantly moving, is providing the powerful bass line. And that bass goes, via the Hammond, into the big, bold, beautiful Leslie speaker, with its built-in amplifier, treble horn and bass speaker.

And our great sound man, Mark Smith, has mic-ed the bottom end from the Leslie, and is pushing it out through the PA.

So, put it all together; Shannon’s virtuosity and sensitivity on the horn. His soulful, Jazzy/Bluesy voice. The wild variety and excitement of Dale’s keys and pedals. The range of timings, tempos and feels from Paul. And you have a very exciting vibe!!

And a night to remember.

Another stand-out among many on the almost 50-years long journey that is the story of The Brisbane Jazz Club.

Thank you Shannon, Dale and Paul…and Mark. And a special mention for Dale’s dancing feet!!

Alan Smith

Brisbane Jazz Club