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Geri Childs sings about long-time friendship in More than Magic CD release (review)

Mark Ferguson has produced both of Geri Childs' CDs ©Brett Delmage, 2014

Geri Childs “More Than Magic” CD Release Concert
NAC Fourth Stage
Friday, October 31, 2014 - 7:30 p.m.

View photos of this performance

Opening with “Sentimental Journey” and closing with “Just Friends”, Geri Childs sang about love and long-time friendship in her CD release concert on Friday.

In particular, she talked about her friendship and collaboration with Mark Ferguson, her musical director for the CD and the concert, how they met in (of all places!) a hired band providing music for Joe Clark's leadership campaign, and how they worked together in picking the new standards in the CD. But “everyone here is a friend”, she said at the end of the concert, and certainly there were lots of smiles and appreciative applause throughout.

On stage were the same musicians who played on More Than Magic – Ferguson on piano, trombone, and melodica, John Geggie on double bass, Rob Graves on percussion, and Margaret Tobolowska on cello. They were joined by René Gely, on four different guitars, and Sharon Timmins on backup vocals. Gely added an extra percussive element brightening the music, and allowed Ferguson to move off the piano to trombone on some of the jazzier numbers.

Highlights included a wistful and ethereal “I Don't Know Where I Stand” by Joni Mitchell, with Timmins providing sweet harmony; “Nine” (by Dianne Reeves) where the nostalgia of the lyrics contrasted with the upbeat music; and the moving “If These Walls Could Speak” by Jimmy Webb, which Childs said spoke to her about family and household memories.

“Trains and Boats and Planes” by Burt Bacharach received a bossa nova treatment, with a hint of Cuban percussion, the bright rhythms contrasting with the melancholy lyrics and the whole having a bit of a 60s retro feel. In general, the songs were kept short and punchy. The songs from the new CD were generally quieter, more intense ballads, contrasting with the three upbeat jazz standards Childs resurrected from her first CD, where she showed perhaps a greater ease with the material.

Another long-time friend of Childs, Ottawa poet Evelyn Voigt, helped end the concert by reciting a poem over music by Debussy in the last number. Voigt also spoke mid-concert about a charity which the concert supported. 25% of the proceeds of the CDs sold at the show will be donated to the Mufindi Orphans Project, which treats AIDS patients and helps their orphaned families in a hard-hit area of Tanzania.

    – Alayne McGregor

See OttawaJazzScene.ca interview with Geri Childs about More Than Magic:

All photos © Brett Delmage, 2014