Casting a jazz spell over Kiwi classics

Anna Coddington, Ria Hall, Julia Deans, and Tami Neilson are performing in Alchemy.
Anna Coddington, Ria Hall, Julia Deans, and Tami Neilson are performing in Alchemy.

The show is called Alchemy - four female vocalists taking a bunch of Kiwi pop songs and reinventing them as jazz.

Yes the likes of Royals, Counting The Beat, Slice Of Heaven, Don't Dream It's Over, Nature, and Gutter Black are getting the treatment from Ria Hall, Anna Coddington, Tami Neilson, Julia Deans and a seven-piece band.

We had a question for the four: Jazz? Really? Those songs? How does that work?

Neilson: I find most musicians who are worth their salt embrace great music, regardless of genre. So, even though I'm known for singing country/soul music, I grew up listening relentlessly to Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday on repeat in my room as a teenager.

As a vocalist, I jumped at the opportunity to perform a genre I don't always get the chance to sing. I was also intrigued to hear these classic songs painted with different colours.

But, all arty-farty talk aside, I just wanted to sing with three vocalists whose voices I love and who also happen to be good pals.

Our rehearsals have been filled with laughter and killer harmonies - a recipe for a great show, I reckon!

Coddington: Ha! That was exactly my train of thought when I was asked to do this gig. I'm so glad I took a leap of faith though.

I'm no jazz boffin but I do enjoy it. I realise it's easy to jump to the conclusion of jazz hands and lots of cheese and "skeebadeebebops" style vocals, but as none of us are that style of vocalist, we'll just be giving our own spin on these songs - which are like the wallpaper you grew up with to most of us - over some tasty arrangements. The band have done a great job and are killer players, so it's going to be proper.

Hall: Jazz is such an incredible style of music, and the way this show has been put together, it makes sense. You have to hear it to understand, it's that kind of experience.

These iconic Kiwi songs have been beautifully cared for and treated with the utmost respect, keeping the songs' integrity and mana while purveying this genre of music. This makes for an interesting marriage, but one that works beautifully nonetheless.

And Deans ...

Jazz?

Eh!?! I thought this was heavy metal.

Really?

Really, I think I got the wrong brief.

Those songs?

I'm not sure what songs you're talking about, but I've worked up an incredible version of Oma Rapiti.

How does that work?

I'm not entirely sure, but anything that lets me join vocal forces with Anna, Tami and Ria is going to produce some serious voodoo.

Alchemy is at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell on Saturday, May 21.

- TimeOut

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