Bonnie Lee Galea has put together a smooth collection of classic jazz tunes with her debut album Since I Fell For You.
The Adelaide-born singer took the brave course of launching the album at the Jade Monkey on Friday evening to hopefully attract an audience of jazz aficionados and the faithful on their way to later gigs. The result was a healthy crowd of appreciative music lovers who hung on every word and well-crafted arrangement.
The album itself is bright and breezy, with Galea’s cheerful vocal style reflecting her personality and well suited to the material. The Adelaide musicians accompanying her are impeccable under the direction of keyboard maestro David Fitzgerald, including double-bassist Quinton Dunne (who also produced the recording), drummer Peter Allan (as interesting and visual as ever), and David Burvill-Holmes on sax and flute.
Flamenco guitarist Al Valodze also performs on the CD, but was unable to be present at the launch.
The live performance suffered from some sound difficulties, but this is no reflection on the quality of the album itself, which showcases Galea’s capabilities as an artist and more than holds its own with any other recording in the genre.
Since I Fell For You consists of 11 tracks, all of which will be familiar to jazz lovers. The standouts for me are Big Mama Thornton’s “How Come”, a smoky version of 1948 classic “Black Coffee”, opening track “Miss Celie’s Blues” (Quincy Jones, Rod Templeton), and “Is You Is, Or Is You Ain’t My Baby” by the great Louis Jordan, with half-spoken verses.
Galea’s versatility extends to singing in Hebrew with “Erev Kachol Amok” (“Deep Blue Evening” – an English translation is provided in the CD packaging). There is also a French version of “Les Etoiles” (“The Stars”) – a nice touch which is well handled.
No-one was able to explain to me why there were bananas at every table at the launch, but they were very tasty. Free door raffle prizes of very nice hampers were also on offer to patrons and I should probably declare that I held one of the winning tickets!
If cruisy, well-crafted jazz is your style, CDs are available from bonnieleegalea.com.