Lily Dior

Lily Dior

606 Club, London, U.K., April 26, 2017

Reviewed by Thanasis Kalantzis for Cabaret Scenes

Lily Dior

One can safely say that the 606 Club is one of the most authentic venues London has to offer. It lies on a quiet street off the riverfront in Chelsea; you enter through an inconspicuous entrance, go down some dimly lit steps, and arrive in a world of jazz purity. In its 40-year tenure, it has presented some real raw talent, singers and instrumentalists, domestic and international. Last night it was Australia’s turn to dazzle with jazz singer Lily Dior.

Having settled in London recently, Dior is relatively new on our shores, but her native country knows her well. Her debut album Invitation (1998) attracted immediate attention and unlocked doors to many festivals and venues in Australia and around the world, including New York, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, and London. She also hosted her own show on one of Sydney’s prominent jazz stations for more than ten years—a good recognition for this seasoned jazz vocalist.

Her repertoire contained a welcome variety of artfully arranged eternal classics interlaced with some of her original work.

She turned the heat on with a fast rendition of “Love for Sale” (Cole Porter), a fitting tribute for Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial, and a full-on showcase of Dior’s vocal potency and handling. She continued with the original “Giving” from her album Let’s Talk About It, an atmospheric, deeper song the lyrics of which obviously meant a lot to her.

With a jazzed-up rendition of “(The Old Man from) The Old Country” (Nat Adderley/Curtis R.
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Lewis) she paid her dues to the impact soul/jazz had on her evolution as an artist, while both her pianist Tim Lapthorn and guitarist Al Cherry shone in memorable solos.

“Everyone Deserves a Second Chance” (Raul Midón) was a Latin gift. The light and playful “You Send Me” (Sam Cooke) that followed was served with all the difficult scatting it deserves (and an extraordinary solo on guitar), and Stevie Wonder’s lesser-known take on breakups, “It Ain’t No Use,” transmitted all the feelings it intended to.

The ballad “Fool That I Am” (Floyd Hunt) came straight from her heart and really brought the room to a standstill. She picked up the pace with an inspired arrangement of the standard “Sweet Georgia Brown” (Ben Bernie/Maceo Pinkard/Kenneth Casey).

In her second set she sang the funky “It’s You” and the thoughtful “Are You Willing?” (included in her album as above), both written by the artist herself, revealing her talent as a lyricist and her deep-rooted jazz musical influences. She gave us a warm rendition of “West Coast Blues” by John L. (Wes) Montgomery, and discussed the world’s current affairs and anxieties in “Stop This World” (Mose Allison) and “Feeding Off the Love of the Land” (Stevie Wonder). She also performed a brilliant arrangement of “Nature Boy” (Eden Ahbez) and Jeanne Burns/Billie Holiday’s bittersweet “Who Needs You (Baby)?” (also included in her album.)

Towards the end she did Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower” and finished with yet another showstopper, “Work Song” (Nat Adderley/Oscar Brown, Jr.), both treated with impromptu sax solos by the guest artist Tim Whitehead.

Dior makes a valuable addition to the London jazz scene. Her lyric voice, at times tender, at others forceful, is pure and clear, and her pitch spot on throughout. Her singing seems to tap into her innermost feelings; it comes from her memories and soul, beautifully conveying each song’s significance. Furthermore, she fills the stage in a graceful and effortless manner and has a great understanding of and working relationship with her band.
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Apart from the brilliant piano playing (and remarkable arranging abilities) of Lapthorn and the masterful Cherry on guitar, she was skilfully supported by Rod Youngs on drums and Geoff Gascoygne on bass.

Thanasis Kalantzis

Thanasis started reviewing for Cabaret Scenes in 2012. He started by reviewing primarily jazz and cabaret artists visiting from the U.S., but these days, he concentrates on British talent. Recently, he added covering musical theater to his duties. He was born in the heart of rural Greece in 1967. He studied Archaeology at the University of Thessaloniki, worked as an excavator in the prehistoric town of Akrotiri, Santorini, and then spent two years on the beautiful island of Crete excavating a Roman village, among other sites. In 1991 he moved to London to study for his MA in Archaeology at University College London thinking that, upon completion, he’d return to Greece and continue with his excavation work. Nevertheless, he gave this amazingly diverse city a go, and started working with various companies, including the Horniman Museum, Sotheby’s and, most recently, the Big Lottery Fund, the organization that allocates lottery funds to arts and charities. His been in London for 26 years, and is happily married to his husband and runs a small, successful business.