Review: Amber Epp @ The Park Theatre (Jazz Winnipeg – Nu Sounds Series)
Amber Epp brought “The Great Canadian Songbook” to The Park Theatre last night, which showcased well known (and not so well known) Canadian songs re-done in new and interesting ways. For the most part she succeeded.
I was a bit late because I was sitting in the lobby, blabbering to my photographer, Dwayne Larson from Its A Music Thing, (he didn’t take this pic). When I walked into the theatre, the band was playing a great version of The Guess Who’s “Undun”, which set a good tone for the rest of the show.
I see a lot of Winnipeg’s jazz musicians collaborating in a multitude of groups. But I’m in my third year of reviewing jazz shows and there are STILL musicians I’ve never seen before; this fills me with great joy. Tonight it was Daniel Roy on the drums. He turned Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs”, into something much more compelling; he was all over that kit and it was fun to watch.
The Bros Landreth “Greenhouse” was wonderfully relaxing and moving thanks in part to the master of atmosphere, Keith Price (guitar). I closed my eyes during this song so I could feel it and goose bumps filled my arms. It felt a bit like a song Joni Mitchell would have created, which is a bit strange because they covered a Joni Mitchell song (“Carey”), but this one felt more like her.
“These Eyes” was the second The Guess Who song they covered and for the most part it was great too. I found the same notes over and over on the keys a bit irritating, but the tune had a funky feel to it and the crowd seemed to really enjoy it.
After intermission, there was a draw for a pan of brownies Amber baked herself earlier in the day. I love jazz shows; they’re just so freakin’ intimate. Let me know if Bruno Mars holds a draw for brownies at MTS Centre ok? Heheh…
It took a long time for the house lights to go down as the band played The Tragically Hip’s “Ahead By A Century”. When Amber said she was going to cover The Hip, I was very nervous because I’m super particular about The Hip. If you’re not going to do them justice, don’t waste your time. I was glad Amber tried. She put a Latin spin on the song and it really worked. It was so interesting; loved it.
“Leaving On A Jet Plane” while not Canadian per se, was also really interesting. Amber’s version was upbeat and cute which was kind of strange because I’ve always found the lyrics painfully sad. But it was cool to hear it performed like that.
I think my favourite song of the night was Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me To The End Of Love”. Amber preceded the song by telling us many people play the song at weddings, however the song is actually about the Holocaust.
Apparently, the Nazi’s forced a string quartet to play while prisoners were taken to the gas chambers. Daniel and Keith left Julian Bradford (bass) and Amber on stage alone and the two played the most chilling, haunting version of that song.
Half way in, I tried to change my perspective and listen to the song as a love song and I could hear it, but I’m not sure I’ll ever listen to it as a love song ever again. Julian played a beautiful bass solo near the end, but no one dared to clap, not wanting to break the spell the two had created in that theatre. It was something else…
Daniel Roy sang one of his original tunes en Francais and Keith Price shone on Feist’s “Gatekeeper”, but the most fun song of the night came at the end. K-os’ “Crabbuckit” made me smile instantly. Now that I hear the original, it’s pretty jazzy, but I wasn’t expecting this band to play it. I also wasn’t expecting Daniel to rap in the middle of it and I didn’t really enjoy that part, but I think the crowd found it amusing.
The song ended to a standing ovation at which point Keith and Julian left the stage while Daniel and Amber played Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel”.
It was nice to sit in a theatre and listen to songs reworked for jazz. It kind of whet my appetite for more jazz, specifically the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival in June. I’m ready for 3 hours of sleep per night and I’m ready to fight through exhaustion produced delusions to bring you the most accurate reviews possible. Bring it on. Heh…
TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMs