Edinburgh Fringe 2017
A buzzing set of vintage jazz and blues from the amazing Ali Affleck and her talented band, The Copper Cats.
Ali Affleck is buzzing with energy as she gathers the musicians to order from one of her three bands, The Copper Cats, at another packed Jazz Bar gig down in Chambers Street. Supporting her tonight are the omni-present Colin Steele on trumpet (is there any band here at the Fringe that he’s not actually playing with?), the mischievous Dick Lee on clarinet and whistle, Jack Wilson on drums and, largely hidden behind her tuba, Danielle Price. And half way through, fresh from finishing up at another gig nearby, Steve Hamilton joins us to tinkle the ivories.
About thirty seconds into her opening number, I’m So Blue, it’s clear why Affleck was voted ‘Best Jazz Vocalist 2014’, a prestigious award from the Scottish Jazz Federation. This is a voice that really has got the lot – control, power throughout her tremendous range, subtlety when the lyrics and music demanded it and the clarity of cut glass. Her vocal technique mirrors that employed by the jazz divas of the 1920’s and 1930’s, the era from which many of the songs in this set were drawn.
However, she was not afraid to dip back even further into the past with songs such as Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home (early 20th century) and a couple of examples from the late 19th century when the modern microphones on which many jazz singers now depend were not yet on the scene, resulting in singers using an entirely different vocal technique in order to be heard above the sound of their backing musicians.
Other notable numbers included Louis Armstrong’s first vocal number, Everybody Loves My Baby, Do Your Duty, Cuckoo and When I Get Low I Get High – a range across the saucy, the sweet and the swinging.
This was a charmingly informal hour of great vintage jazz and blues, charming in the sense that it was democratic – no set list and very limited charts for those numbers they decided to play. This had the effect of putting a bunch of kids into a sweet shop, allowing each musician the chance to jam away to their heart’s content at appropriate points in each piece and this talented chanteuse to parade her vocal skills for us all to enjoy.
Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone was the rousing finale. But, rest assured, we’ll all be talking about this talented singer and her cohort of musicians for a very long time to come. Ali Affleck has a big future. Go along and enjoy a part of it whenever you can. Highly recommended listening for any blues, jazz or appreciator of good music.