There are nights at the Brisbane Jazz Club when world-class musicianship, a tuned-in, appreciative audience, and the lights shimmering across the Brisbane River, swirl into the magical, the mystical, and create a mood and a night to remember. On such a night, we are deeply engaged, captured, enraptured; listening and loving from the first note to the last.

Tonight, with Dave Spicer and Friends, was such a night.

Four musicians. Five instruments.

Dave Spicer’s sparkling piano. Sean Flynn’s bright, crisp, left-handed guitar. Helen Svoboda’s gentle, cruisy double bass. Lachie Hawkins’ ever-right time and touch with sticks and brushes. And Dave’s Jazz lounge voice dancing through them all.

Each instrument stood subtly, tightly, cleanly alone, while combining in a masterful performance by four talented musicians who were playing together in this configuration for the first-time.

Dave Spicer is a much celebrated, long-time member of the Brisbane Jazz community, renowned for his silky skills at the keyboard. 2017 however, sees him dramatically extend and broaden the appeal of his performances by stepping up to the mic, with a unique, under-stated vocal style; delivering fascinating new arrangements of standards and lesser known Jazz tunes, and some well-crafted compositions of his own.

Vocal influences of whom Dave speaks include Harry Connick Jnr, Jamie Cullum, Vince Jones, Bobby McFerrin and local performer, Darren Percival. I would add Michael Franks and Stephen Bishop; two voices that immediately came to mind at this, my first hearing.

In such company, Dave’s performance skills would not be out of place. And while he may not have the vocal range to match the best of them, he knows just how to get the best from his voice; crafting, pitching and phrasing each note beautifully; infusing his musical tales with a deep-felt soul and sensitivity.

Highlights included Dave teaching and doo-wopping his way through a classic Blues progression, a scatted arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Straight No Chaser’, sweet, dreamy versions of Gregory Porter’s ‘Water Under Bridges’ and John Lennon’s ‘Oh My Love’, and unique arrangements of standards such asCome Fly With Me and Almost Like Being In Love.

His own composition ‘Village Voice’ cleverly evoked a time when, as a young musician in New York, he had found himself within walking distance of performances by idols such as Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett.

Claire Walters, aka Franky Smart, stepped up for a guest spot with a soaring rendition of ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’.

As the BJC’s new President, Paul Day, said at the end of the night; ‘This was world class. This was special’. If you missed it, do yourself a favour, and catch them next time they are here at the Brisbane Jazz Club…or anywhere!!

Alan Smith

Brisbane Jazz Club