Emilie-Claire Barlow

Date and Venue 9 April 2009 @ 8pm | Capilano Performing Arts Theatre, North Vancouver

Featured Performers Emilie-Claire Barlow - vocals, “A” Band & Nitecap.

Reviewer John Jane

Emilie-Claire Barlow is neither a jazz innovator nor a slick, vacuous song stylist. She's one of that rare breed of jazz artists with legitimate street-cred and musical pedigree who also relates to every kind of audience

On her first ever visit to Vancouver, she put on a sparkling show for a near-capacity crowd at the Capilano Performing Arts Theatre with two distinctly different sets. The first, backed up with Nitecap, a nine-member vocal ensemble led by musical director Rejean Marois; the second, accompanied by ‘A’ Band, a 17-piece jazz unit consisting of five trumpets, four trombones and five saxophones.

Barlow is both an artist and entertainer with a similiar personable delivery as British Columbia’s own Diana Krall. Like Krall, she is able to take jazz chestnuts like “Sunny side of the street” and “All I do is dream of you” and make them sound as if you were hearing them for the first time.

Her 90-minute split set kicked off with a spirited rendition of the 1943 Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune "Surrey with the fringe on top” from the musical Oklahoma that also featured the inspiring guitar work of Josh Roberts.

Barlow then moved straight in to a pair of tunes from her recent recording, “Haven’t We Met?” – showing some classy phrasing on Rejean Marois’s re-arranged up-tempo “Comin’ home baby” and the Bossa Nova styled “La vem a Bajana” sung in Portugese.

‘A’ Band and Nitecap are entirely manned by students of Capilano University’s Jazz Studies Diploma Programme and Ms Barlow was generous in allowing these less experienced musicians to share the spotlight – the students responded with some stellar solo passages.

‘A’ Band opened the second set with a rousing Thad Jones composition, “Central Park North” which lacked nothing in volume and “Billie’s Bounce” that featured the sensational scat vocalising of Hannah Ng.

The Toronto based singer returned to the stage to perform a big, bold, brassy version of “Will you still be mine?” – a tune included in her repertoire at the suggestion of her mother Judy Tate, a singer and arranger in her own right. She closed out her show with another Bossa Nova tune, “I’m glad there is you” and the jazz standard popularised by Frank Sinatra “You make me feel so young.”

Let us hope that Ms Barlow’s first concert in Vancouver will be the first of many more.

© 2009 John Jane