Jane Irving

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Jane Irving

Birdland Theater, NYC, November 26, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Jane Irving
Photo: Shervin Lainez

Jane Irving’s emphasis on originality resonates within a jazz setting. Her personal style (of dress and manner) matches well with a genre devoted to rambling solos. She finds a space along the border of what the typical jazz performer does, and in part that’s a result of her Australian background as she can choose contemporary choices from Down Under that strike a fresh note.

It’s an advantage she could have relied on a little more, but overall, her light sound and clean vocals made for easy listening. On the other hand, she offered an eclectic selection of songs centered on the timeless concept of love.

While this theme was implied rather than explicit, she did the most to tie one song to another. Strong moments included affectionate lines from “When Lights Are Low” (Benny Carter/Spencer Williams) with the line “Dear we’re so close together” and “our lips meeting soft and tender” spoke to the embers of glowing love.

In contrast to songs with a softer touch, “I Keep Goin’ Back to Joe’s” (Marvin Fisher/Jack Segal) and others in the second half of the show stood on the opposite side of love, looking at endings rather than beginnings.

Irving also pulled out the “singer who plays the piano” trick for one of her best moments in the show. Sitting down to take the keys for Dave Frishberg’s “Snowbound,” she kicked up the warmth, crooning, “The good news is here we are socked in together.” The good vibes continued with another strong performance of “Blossom,” written about Blossom Dearie. When Irving sang “Blossom, the day will be fine” and “play me a soft summer day,” the positive lyrics and her performance stood out over her other choices.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see StruckChris.com