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Review - Swing That Music: quality sounds from quality performers

Right: Emma Pask and Tom Burlinson. Photo by Gail Phillips

Swing That Music

Concert Hall

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank


Concert reviewed on February 11

“It don't mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing” wrote Irving Mills to a Duke Ellington tune back in 1931 and vocalists Tom Burlinson and Emma Pask took the advice to heart and swung like crazy to the Ed Wilson All-star Big band before a capacity house at the QPAC Concert Hall.

The two of them and the big, brassy band put on a terrific show that took me back a few years to the days of dance halls and live, unamplified music. I suspect there would be more than a few who reminisced about Cloudland!

The two sets ran for an hour each an included 22 songs as solos, duets and instrumentals with classics from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. It was quality sounds from quality performers. But it was not all top tunes from the classic eras of swing. Ed Wilson arranged big band orchestrations forHey Jude, Mack the Knife and Wonderful World as well as a couple of originals.

And the audience loved it; feet were tapping to the beat for the whole two hours of music.

Burlinson, is a smooth accomplished performer who channels Frank Sinatra without copying his phrasing and looked totally at home before an adoring audience.

Emma Pask is a jazz singer with an amazing tone and range as she slotted her style into many different eras. Together they blended beautifully in classic duets like Unforgettable, What a Wonderful World, ‘Tain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It), Swing That Music and particularly in L.O.V.E by Bert Kaempfert with lyrics by Milt Gabler, which as a hit for Nat King Cole.

There was humour too: Ed Wilson took his trombone to centre stage, announced that he always got a standing ovation for his next piece and promptly led his band into an amazing version of Hey Jude! He got his standing ovation as did the whole show at the end of the night.

The second half was the winner for me. It opened with a rousing In the Mood from the band and was followed an upbeat I Remember You from Tom Burlinson, that sounded nothing like the Frank Ifield hit, and a beautiful rendering of Georgia and a feisty On the Sunny Side of the Street from Emma Pask.

Burlinson’s poignant version of Mr Bo Jangles won me over too. The show title comes from a toe-tapping number written by Louis Armstrong that embodied swing as it conjured up visions of jitterbugging youngsters. It was a great piece to end each act.

Burlinson and Pask were to sign CDs after the show. Judging by the line-up of people they were going to be there for a long time.

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