There is something about listening to the Blues that brings a huge smile to my face. The fun beat, the freedom with which they play and then the expressions on their faces as they play make it the most enjoyable concert I can think of to watch. I think that since my mom was involved in theater from the time I was very young, I developed a huge appreciation for facial expressions and the energy of stage presence. Folks who play Blues or Jazz are by far the most interesting and enjoyable subjects to watch. Their faces contort and smile and frown to match the lyrics and the highs and lows of the tempos and pitch. Their bodies too contort and seem to interpret for the audience the lyrics and notes as they are not immune to the expression that flows through the music either.
I went to see Davina and the Vagabonds on Friday night at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis and what an immense pleasure that was! Each band member was unique in their expressions which I am going to describe as best I can.
The least expressive was the drummer, Dan Olson. I don't think his face made so much as a twitch most of the entire set except for the occasional smile as if he was remembering that perhaps the crowd would like to see one. Since I am (as my husband will attest) quite easily amused, I found this in itself to be kind of funny.
The stand up bass player Michael Carvale had slicked back black (or dark brown) hair and reminded me of a character in an old mobster type movie. His face was serene looking, smiling most of the time as if he could not imagine a better thing in the world to be doing than plucking away at the massive strings. When he sang he did it so naturally and easily that he had the suave on stage confidence of Frank Sinatra.
Scott Agster played trombone. He had a mischievous presence and quite obviously had a ball playing to the crowd. His hips swayed side to side with the beat like he had an invisible dance partner. His solo's were so fun and creative. His vocals, like his instrument teased the crowd like he wrote the song's story himself. He always had a slight smirk on his face like he knew something we didn't and couldn't wait to tell us.
Zack Lozier played trumpet and was slightly less expressive but no less talented. His solos were also incredibly fun and creative. His presence and character seemed very matter of fact and sang his solos flawlessly in this manner. Although you could tell he enjoyed himself, it was not as obvious as the trombone player next to him.
Last but not least, Davina Sowers played piano and headed the vocals. She was by far the most interesting and fun band member to watch. Whether she sang and played or just played piano, her feet never stopped moving, stomping with the beat in her black high heels. I think the music literally took over her body as she played. I could not look at her without feeling an incredible urge to dance in my seat as she did when she played. Her facial expressions were absolutely priceless and showed all the emotion one would be feeling as they wrote the song or went through the situation. Her stage presence was downright delightfully theatrical. Her throaty vocals were like that of Billie Holiday that made you feel every word she sang. Davina personally involved herself in every song and lived and felt the lyrics as she belted them out in perfect pitch and rhythm.
The whole ensemble played their parts perfectly and improvised beautifully. I can only imagine how much fun it would be to be onstage with them. However, having a small amount of stage experience myself, I also know that they must seriously work their tails off in practice to be so tight and in sync with each other.
I'll definitely make it a point to see them all in concert again only next time I think I'll make sure there is a dance floor so I won't have to restrain the music inspired urges to get up and dance. :)
Till next time...