KidsOutandAbout Jazz Fest Review- Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly- Harro East Ballroom June 20, 2015
By Steve Santini
When I saw Grace Kelly for the first time on Saturday night at Harro East Ballroom, I immediately knew I was in for a treat. She wins you over with her mesmerizing smile and droopy psychedelic hair highlights. She moves, she gyrates, she undulates with youthful exuberance and charm. She radiates supreme enjoyment, passion, and confidence. So you see, when she raises her alto sax and blows, you’re already practically floating on a cloud. Occasionally, perhaps, she might sound a bit like Kenny G on steroids, but she does whatever she wants and does it very well. Her smoking duet rendition of “St. Thomas” on sopranino with drummer Ross Pederson showed that she had bop chops aplenty, but for the most part – on this set at any rate – she chose to blend a variety of musical styles… and all delightfully funky through and through.
Oh, and she’s a fine songwriter and a soulful vocalist, helped out with perfectly blended harmonies from rock-solid bassist Julia Pederson and keyboardist Tyler Cash. A high point of the show start to finish was the contribution of versatile guitar master Pete McCann, who appears to be constantly touring with a variety of bands – and with good reason. Whether it was a burning solo, a tasty arpeggiated counterpoint to a vocal melody, or trading licks with Grace, he effortlessly coaxed an endless array of beautiful sounds out of his off-the-shelf ‘88 Gibson 335. (Well, it is an iconic ax, but it’s the player not the gear, people!)
I loved the “Grace-ified” covers, naturally, but her original compositions completely won me over, in particular the beautiful get-up-and-dance “Working For the Dreamers”, and the personal but catchy break-up tune “Eggshells”, in which she claims “but I can’t, no I can’t drive this train alone”.
I don’t know Grace. I think you can.
Steve Santini writes music reviews for KidsOutandAbout when he isn't busy playing with his grandkids or with his Gibson ES-175.