Best Friends Again
Jazz/blues vocalist, resident Fringe Queen (winner of multiple Fringe World awards) and darling Jessie Gordon and accomplished guitarist and vocalist Mark Turner returned to The Ellington Jazz Club stage this Fringe season with their follow up to 2019’s Fringe World award winning Best Friends with Best Friends Again.
Stripped back and armed only with Gordon’s ukulele, Turner’s acoustic guitar and their rich, smooth and buttery voices.
The game is simple: 30 of their favourites songs to play together, ranging from jazz, blues, a little bitta country (Hello, Dolly [Parton]!) and some original tunes, each numbered from one to 30, audience members are asked to pick a number and they play the song assigned to that number.
While improvisation can often be risky even with the most seasoned performers, this delightful 55 minute round of musical roulette is a polished and very much a well-oiled machine.
This can be attributed to the two being actual best friends for almost two decades and musical collaborators for a large part of this so their musical compatibility is obvious, playing to each other’s strengths and very quick to pick up on each other’s cues.
On top of that their chemistry is undeniable – they are charming, charismatic, delightful, talented, they are performers. It’s kind of perfect.
Gordon’s voice is smooth as silk and versatile – when required, it was sweet, or sultry and saucy or there was belt and rasp. Turner’s voice is deep, rich and buttery smooth with a hint of soul.
Their vocal blend was gorgeous and they were both meticulous and tasteful in musical and vocal choices, playing in the pocket and coming through with those musical dynamics.
The beauty of improvisation is that no show is the same and requires both the performers and audience members to be in the present moment and last night was no exception, captivating from the second they opened their mouths, it was easy to forget there only two people on stage.
Whether it was the dreamy rendition of Dream a Little Dream of Me, or the lesser known third verse of Jolene (there isn’t but don’t tell Dolly) told from the perspective of a young Jolene or the improvised medley of songs that ranged from an iconic Australian pub song, Whitney, Disney and Blackstreet; it’s a show full of joy, quick wit and charisma.
There were pub choir moments, perfect two, three and even four part harmonies, welcomed audience participation, hilarious anecdotes – Best Friends Again has everything in just the right amounts with a few unexpected but very enjoyable and welcomed twists.
It’s clear Gordon and Turner are best friends but for a hot second, we were right there with them and it was glorious.