Four days, four shows, four cities in four states. Sound like a mad mad mad mad schedule to you? It was! Let’s dispel the myth now: touring is not like going on a holiday where you happen to rock up to a club some evenings and play a show. It’s hard, grinding work… great fun, but tough!
The Brisbane Jazz Club was hectic this Saturday evening; it was like unfurling a surprise gift. A classy supper club, the beautiful cityscape posed a wonderful setting to the stage of a simple jazz rhythm rhythm section with bass, guitar, keyboard supported by a grand piano and a jazz kit propping the backup vocalist and vanguard of Perth singer-songwriter Shameem. Covers of ’90s tracks from Jon Secada’s ‘Just Another Day’ to Erykah Badu’s sassy ‘Certainly’, and a stunning unplugged piano version of 4 Non Blonde’s ‘What’s Up’, were worked in alongside originals from Shameem’s self-titled album. A charming stream of patter explained the history of each song. From the strawberry coloured birthmark on her cheek for ‘Strawberry’, to a woman’s perspective in a male dominated world with ‘Yin’ and the funky groove of ‘Parents & Children’, Shameem’s vocal suppleness and song-writing talents were on display. Her melismatic improvisation and scatting shone as her tones varied between angelic and forceful. Shameem’s dynamic charisma was apparent to all while her band pulsated. The guitar wandered in and out of melodies, the keys enhancing textures, the drums abounding with rimshots while the bass remained at the centre of this controlled cataclysm. The performance had all the reminiscence of Jacques Prevert, the R&B of Angie Stone, an Ella Fitzgerald treatment with the tightness of a Gil Evans score and the pace of The Brand New Heavies; unplugged and lashed with exuberance. There’s nothing like the vibrancy of live music. Package it in the Brisbane Jazz Club with top musicianship and it can’t be beat.
“I actually had recorded an EP back in 2009,” Taheri-Lee says, putting into context the approach she took to her debut album. “The EP was recorded more like a jazz project – we did three takes for each song, and then chose the best take. With this album we took more time and put a bit more consideration into production. Also, when we went to record the album, the band had been together for much longer and we’d performed and fleshed out the songs much more than we did before the EP recording… so the arrangements are more mature.”
By Lady Lex
Nothing can equal the dynamism of a stage of musicians blowing their horns, banging the drums, beating the bass and hitting the keys with a gorgeous jazz singer who writes her own lyrics out front with a Shure S52 in hand.
The process for live music is an organic beast: it’s a development that begins with learning the craft by stitching together the music – writing the lyrics, bringing the musicians together, laying all that work down on a track before performing it to an audience.
In this weary world where cheek has replaced charm, talent is revered at the push of a button and the word ‘band’ is often confused with a multitude of dancing singers. So, it’s a breath of fresh air when a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist blows into town with a band of musicians in tow. And this breath of fresh air is Shameem Taheri-Lee.