• Michael Bugeja

SONGS: 2 NIGHTS OF INTIMATE LIVE JAZZ


Simply titled Songs, the upcoming concert (two actually, on consecutive nights) by Vinny Vella Jr and Nadine Axisa is certainly not the first time the two artists have worked together and, knowing their passion for music and jazz in particular, it probably won't be the last either. Their paths first crossed several years ago when Axisa, until then operating mostly on the festival circuit, started making inroads within the local jazz scene as she discovered a profound affinity for the genre.

Apart from singing on Vella's first album, a collection of jazz reworking of songs by The Beatles, one of the first original fruits of their collaboration was a little gem called Waves, with which they participated in the 2006 Malta Song Festival. The song remains special to both of them for different reasons. To the vocalist with the velvet voice, the song was her last appearance on the festival circuit, a smooth stepping stone to an exciting new phase in her career. To Vella, an accomplished pianist and a pillar of the Maltese jazz scene, the song was a bold attempt to bring the distinguished genre to a mainstream audience. The song didn't win, but it did at least push the point home that Eurovision entries need not be stereotypical. In the years that passed, they've each pursued different paths, different goals, albeit still within the jazz sphere and, in what may described as coming full circle, they both made a guest appearance on each other's albums. Vella plays on Free, a song he also wrote (with Fiona Cauchi) especially for Axisa's acclaimed 2014 Velvet album. In return, Axisa sings on the Stevie Wonder composition Bird of Beauty, the opening number on Vella's Another Way album which, apart from a handful of originals, affirms his signature predisposition to find alternate ways of playing familiar tunes. This recent crossing of paths led to a rekindling of past collaborations, the result being the two nights of Songs, delivered live in the intimate setting that the Music Room at St. James Cavalier in Valletta is known to offer. Apart from Axisa on vocals and Vella on piano, the performances will also feature Edward Ellul on bass, Joe Micallef on drums, with guest appearances from vocalist Andreana Debattista and the multi-talented Kris Spiteri. Expect to hear tunes from both the Velvet and Another Way albums, along with a specially selected set of well-known songs for extra flavour.

Songs will be performed on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 January at St James Cavalier, Valletta. For more event and ticket information, click here.

This article was first published on LittleRock.com.mt (14 January 2015)

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