At this Sunday afternoon concert at The Joan Mike Nock was warming up as the crowd wandered in. He was warmly applauded when he finished and thanked the crowd for their appreciation of his pre-show tuning up. In gratitude he played one of his favourite songs that the rest of the quartet happened to dislike, Rodgers and Hart’s My Funny Valentine. His piano playing was skilful, spectacular and engrossing.
The rest of the quartet entered the stage when he finished and Hetty introduced the band, made up of Mike Nock, Lloyd Swanton and Andrew Dickeson. Hetty also enthused about Henri Marcs, the local café she had visited, prior to the performance, and enthused about its excellent coffee.
The audience was then treated to a smooth version of Sweet Lorraine, made famous by Nat King Cole. Hetty’s introduction of the songs gave a brief history of the songs and often included a tangentially humorous tale relating to the song. These interesting asides added to the concert as Hetty has a very warm and friendly personality.
The arrangements and skill of the musicians were absolutely first rate. Hetty’s voice is strong and sweet. Her range and technical expertise was very impressive.
I rate her as one of the best jazz vocalists I have heard for a while and the people of Penrith were honoured to have her in their midst. The second song, the great jazz standard Stardust, was connected to Sweet Lorraine by way of the song having the same lyricist, Mitchell Parish (more helpful history from Hetty!).
The quartet’s rendition of Antônio Carlos Jobim’s No More Blues had a very Latin, vibrant jazz feel. Hetty went on to say that Antônio Carlos Jobim was also the writer of the classic ballad, The Girl from Ipanema.
This was followed by a song made famous by Peggy Lee: Why Don’t You Do Right? For this number, Hetty was only accompanied by Lloyd Swanton’s double bass and Andrew Dickeson’s on drums. This sparse arrangement was reminiscent of Peggy Lee’s Fever.
Hetty categorises her various songs in groups such as animal songs, food songs and story songs. Something Cool falls under the category of being a story song. This was recorded by one of Hetty’s favourite singers, June Christy, and was performed with an almost sublime and very spare arrangement. As it was throughout the concert, Lloyd Swanton’s double bass was a joy.
Contrasting this sparse performance, the following number was the up tempo Just You, Just Me. Drummer Andrew Dickeson put aside his brushes for this number and pulled out his sticks and showed excellent versatility and performed with skill and energy. This sons was followed by No Moon At All, a song recorded by another Hetty Kate favourite, Julie London.
Finishing the show was a fast paced, almost scat, version of Love Me or Leave Me, which displayed another aspect of Hetty’s fine voice, and challenged the band to further display their already very impressive skills. I was hugely impressed by Mike Nock’s performance, as part of this very entertaining afternoon.