BWW Review: VIVIAN SESSOMS Swings Out In Adelaide
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Monday 27th June 2016
One never knows who one will meet in Adelaide, or where they might have come from. This happens at any time of the year but, during the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, the chances of meeting fascinating people from anywhere in the world is greatly increased. The Adelaide Festival Centre's Piano Bar at the end of the evening is the place to relax for a while before heading home, the venue this year featuring the sensational entertainer, Trevor Jones. It is also the place to catch up with friends, and make new ones.
One of the people that I met this year, and who was later invited to join Jones on stage for a couple of numbers this year, was professional singer, Vivian Sessoms, from Jersey City, New Jersey. As luck would have it, she was performing at a local music venue, The Wheatsheaf Hotel, with three of Adelaide's best young jazz musicians before heading to the eastern states to perform. The performance was under the banner of Creative Original Music Adelaide (COMA) which runs a regular series of concerts there.
She was backed by Mark Ferguson on keyboard, Lyndon Gray on bass and bass guitar, and Ben Todd on drums, and they did a superb job with the complex charts. The superb arrangements were all written by Sessoms and so they could not have been more suited to her singing.
Australian composer, Brenton Foster, took over the keyboards for a couple of his own very fine numbers, which Sessoms interpreted with a clear understanding of what was needed to really sell them, and Adelaide singer, and cabaret favourite, Kate Fuller, was called up to join Sessoms. Their two different styles proved a good contrast while their voices blended so well.
The central focus, of course, was Vivian Sessoms, and what an amazing voice she possesses. She has a very wide range and remarkable control, from breathy whispers to a powerful roar. Every number is transformed into something new and very personal, particularly an unbelievable version of Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit. From Duke Ellington's composer/arranger, Billy Strayhorn, to pop music, she injects new life, emotional value, and excitement. The concert was showcasing tunes that will be on her next CD, so keep an eye open for it, and watch for Vivian Sessoms's return next year.
She will be performing shortly in Brisbane and Canberra.