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Review of Melanie’s live concert performance at Jazz at Johnstown Castle

CELEBRATING THE GREAT JAZZ SONGS : Melanie O’Reilly at Johnstown Castle
Review: Jackie Hayden – Saturday 11th June 2022

Melanie O’Reilly has an unerring instinct for focusing on songs that sound like she’s lived in them for years, and probably has. But to-night she made room to share them with her listeners for a Summer Jazz at Johnstown special that lived up to its billing. The full-house audience were captivated from start to finish as the award-winning and much-travelled Wexford-based vocalist served up treat after treat linked with stories about the songs and their creators.   Ably assisted by a trio consisting of Gediminas Karkauskas (piano), Adrian Jackson (bass) and Kevin Lawlor (drums), all of whom were given ample space to shine, O’Reilly showed how easily she can slip from sassy and sultry to playfully intimate even within the same song. She took Dave Brubeck’s ‘Summer Song’, memorably recorded by Brubeck with Carmen McCrae, and gave it a thorough spring-cleaning, while other gems from the night included Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘Girl from Ipanema’ as popularised by the Stan Getz-Astrud Gilberto hit, and her effortless take on ‘I’m Beginning to See the Light’ from Ella Fitzgerald’s extensive back catalogue. ‘Cheek To Cheek’ also stood out amid a parade of classy performances that also included favourite classics by Rosemary Clooney, Mel Torme, Nina Simone, and Jon Hendricks among others.

Once again promoter Tom Mooney and Johnstown Castle proved that jazz is alive and well in the sunny south-east, and that augurs well for the upcoming jazz gigs at the Castle.