Live At ReVoice! is the fifth album by London-based jazz singer and lyricist, Georgia Mancio. She founded the ReVoice! Festival – a showcase for jazz singers – back in 2010, in association with the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho, London. Over the past five years, the festival has featured a wide range of international jazz singers, including the likes of Gregory Porter, Karin Krog, Ian Shaw and Liane Carroll, to name but a few. In addition to curating and hosting the festival, Georgia also performed as a duo with a wide range of jazz musicians. She started to record these performances in 2012, the third year of the festival, and has cherry-picked her favourites from the last three years for this live album.
Over the years, she has clearly grown more confident, both as a singer, and an interpreter of songs. “My choices became bolder,” she admits, “and perhaps the zenith is the whole set of originals co-written with Tom Cawley specifically for our ReVoice! performance”.
Only one of those originals makes the final cut – a tune called Bendita, which features some literate, evocative lyrics by Mancio, written to an elegant waltz by Cawley. She is also a fan of the singer and lyricist Jon Hendricks, a contributes a verse of her own to Hendricks’s adaptation of Stanley Turrentine’s magnificent Sugar.
What helps to set this album apart from many of the jazz vocal albums we hear, is that Mancio clearly worked closely with each of the musicians involved to make these performances unique. Sting’s Fragile, for example, is stripped back to its bare bones, and performed as a duo with double bass player Andrew Cleyndert. Mancio’s gorgeous tone and subtle phrasing shines a fresh light on the lyrics, and helps us to hear the song in a new way.
Likewise, Paul Simon’s I Do It for Your Love, which has also been performed by Bill Evans, is given a subtle makeover here, Mancio lingering over the lyrics, injecting a hint of world-weariness. John Lennon’s In My Life, performed straight, has arguably been heard too many times. But Mancio, performing with James Pearson on piano, slows the pace, and makes the lyric seem even more poignant.
There are some standards here, too, such as Just Friends, but more often than not, Mancio leans towards lesser-known songs, such as Sammy Cahn’s The Things We Did Last Summer, which was originally by Jo Stafford.
Mancio also throws in a couple of surprises, which helps to keep things interesting. She can sing in five languages, and whilst she claims her Italian grammar is far from perfect, you would never know when listening to Le Strade Di Notte, a popular hit from the 1960s. Here she is accompanied by Maurizio Minardi on accordion, another well-chosen collaboration. The album closes with When I Live My Dream, a little-known early single by David Bowie from 1967, on which she is joined by Ian Shaw on piano.
Mancio is in fine voice throughout. The duo format leaves nowhere to hide, but she sounds confident and relaxed, with the occasional change in emphasis helping to put a fresh spin on certain lyrics. Her scatting is also clear and concise. Finally, it’s worth noting the album is beautifully recorded, and captures the singer and musicians to good effect. Highly recommended.