Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Vive – Jazz A Cappella
Venue: Spacecabaret at 54 North Bridge
Jazz, pop, spirituals, beat box, paradox, fusion, close harmony – you name it, Vive can sing it. A top class set of new material and inventive arrangements of well know songs rendered with energy, a smile and consummate musical and vocal dexterity.
Vive is a six-part a cappella group that takes a fresh look at old tunes as well as writing and arranging their own material. What appears at first to be a slightly unbalanced mix of one girl to five guys in fact produces sumptuous harmonies and exquisite vocal percussion. With Sam Robson (counter tenor, or male alto if you prefer) providing Emily Dankworth (soprano) with melodious support, the remaining mix of two tenors (Martynas Vilpisauskas and Ben Cox), baritone (founder James Rose) and a wonderfully resonant bass (Lewis Daniel) lent each of the numbers they sang a rounded and very pleasing sound.
Their opening number, ‘Your Motivation’, was full of complex harmonies, neat counter melodies and engaging vocal percussion. They produced a very pleasing arrangement of ‘Hi’, a Lighthouse Family staple of the 1990’s and followed this with a couple more tunes from their own stable. They mixed the mood and tempo very nicely too, with a melancholic, reflective ‘Dreams’ being book ended by the more upbeat Tabula Rasa and Time Machine. It was also a delight to hear the group acknowledge the inspiration they had derived from Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and the like (more my generation) which came across in a splendid blues number entitled ‘Red Top’.
Tackling jazz a cappella is no easy task either, given that your audience will expect instrumental vamping at pretty regular intervals. But trumpet impressions clearly come easily to Martynas Vilpisauskas, reed instruments are Ben Cox’s bag and the marvellous vocal dexterity of Lewis Daniel provided deep, booming bass and occasional bursts from that broad church of instruments that is the percussion family.
They always used to say on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ (BBC2, remember it?) that, if the cleaners were tapping their feet to the music, then the band was a good ‘un. Well, I can report that the sound engineer was boogieing along with the best of them throughout the gig. Mind you, most of us were and on that basis alone, this group comes highly recommended. But do get there early if you want a good seat – the show on Saturday was packed out so your correspondent had no option but to prop up the bar, and foot tap away. Life does have its compensations.