Sassafras: An Evening of Gypsy Swing
From the very first mellow notes, Sassafras: An Evening of Gypsy Swing was simply spellbinding.
Described by vocalist Jessie Gordon as “your local gypsy swing slash overly dramatic French ballad band”, the quintet’s repertoire spans decades, continents and genres. The setlist at this show ranged from Duke Ellington and Cole Porter to Django Reinhardt and Edith Piaf, all exquisitely performed.
Gordon’s beautiful voice served well across it all, going from smooth and velvety to punchy and powerful. Her French pronunciation is close to perfect and her stage presence relaxed and warm.
Alongside her were Adrian Galante, fingers flying over clarinet keys, Pete Jeavons plucking the mighty double bass, and Lachlan Gear and Aaron Deacon strumming those essential gypsy guitars. Each shone in their solos – particularly Galante when Gordon stepped aside for an instrumental number: his arrangement of a Hungarian dance reached a raucous and exhilarating peak, displaying his virtuosic skill on the clarinet.
At times soft and sweet, at others louder and lively, the show was always engaging. The group’s masterful use of dynamics had them filling the room and then fading to nothing, leaving the audience enchanted.
At many points, you could close your eyes and feel as though you were sitting outside a cafe on a charming cobbled street somewhere in Europe listening to some (extremely talented) local musicians.
What a pleasure to see such excellent artists performing this dazzling repertoire in Perth! I know I’ll be looking out for future gigs with these guys (whether as Sassafras or in the various other ensembles they’re part of).
My only complaint? One hour passed too quickly.
Get down to the Ellington Jazz Club for this one before FRINGE WORLD wraps up – and be sure to clap hard because the encores were absolute highlights of the show, putting unique spins on beloved classics.