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Matthew Ruddick

Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Sunday, 13 December 2015 17:55

The Puppini Sisters, 10th December, Ronnie Scott's, London

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Slipping and sliding...away, quite far away.  

A close harmony trio, sparkly dresses, good musicians to back up the singing. The Puppini Sisters are on stage at Ronnie Scott’s. It is their first time at the club, but they sure know how to make an entrance. 

The Sisters’ Christmas Extravaganza opens with one of the most played and sung tunes of all times, Jingle Bells.  

Marcella Puppini, the founder member plays the accordion. The trio was first set up just over ten years ago and has been through a few mutations since, with Marcella and Kate Mullins, who flaunts a very blond hairdo, à la Marilyn, being the constant members.  

Mr. Sandman - a good rendition of the classic song gets the crowd addicted from note one. The diminuitive Marcella Puppini steps up and down to the rhythm on this old swing tune.  

In these festive times, a Christmas song or two - a perfect antidote to the sorrow and pain that surrounds us all.

There is banter in between songs by the décolletaged dressed sisters; a different kind of humour, a bit dry at times, not always in tune with the atmosphere that’s being created.  

Kate Mullins takes the lead on a regular basis, both singing and cracking a joke or two. Then Kate is left solo on stage with a different pianist, William Bartlett. “The Puppini Sisters deconstructed,” Kate says, by way of an introduction.

Kate solo voice is lovely, crisp and clear, but I prefer them all together, in unison. That way the melodies and swing tunes are better created. And when they do get back together on stage it is with Rory O’Connor, one of Kate’s students. Unfortunately his debut on Ronnies’ stage has caused his fresh voice to suffer from stage nerves - all perfectly normal - although I am not sure this interlude fits the show and tempo.

The week prior to the Puppini Sisters playing at Ronnies, the mighty Joe Stilgoe and his band took over the stage with a funky, smooth and slick show. I was impressed and wanted more.

When Marcella Puppini sings the title track from their fifth album, High Life, which is due out in February next year, the crowd becomes more attentive, but not as much as the week before.  

We shall have to wait for a next time perhaps to see what the Sisters can give to the Ronnies’ crowd; more swing, please, and less dressing up. 

Line up: Marcella Puppini - Vocals, Accordion; Kate Mullins - Vocals, Piano; Emma Smith - Vocals, Ukelele; Blake Wilner - Guitar; Peter Ibbetson - Drums; Henrik Jensen - Bass


Review: Erminia Yardley

Photograph: Carl Hyde


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