Jazz singer Charenée Wade used her dynamic voice and her considerable performance skills to entertain the full house at Foundry 616 for the second last night of the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival.

The evening opened with an instrumental featuring the outstanding pianist Oscar Perez. His energetic and embodied performance drew on both his Cuban roots and his New York background. Local musicians Brett Hirst on double bass and Paul Derricott on drums supported and complemented this world class pianist.

Charenée joined the trio on stage and in a sultry playful voice and explained that she is a fan of Gil Scott-Heron and just as he did she wants to use music to continue his message to make this a better world. She used her big powerful confident voice across a number of styles such as jazz, funky soul and her version of scat. As well as Gil Scott-Heron she acknowledged Betty Carter, Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughn as her influences. I also heard hints of Nina Simone and Cleo Laine in her voice.

The first set featured songs, such as Home Is Where The Hatred Is, I Think I’ll Call It Morning and SongOf The Wind, from her latest album, Offering. The audience happily participated in some call and echo, finger clicking and clapping along.

The second set featured songs from her forthcoming album. Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach’s song Lonesome Lover featured more audience participation with the whole room singing along. This makeshift choir even got a lesson on staggered breathing. Charenée advised us to look at the person next to you when holding a long note and breathe at a different time so that the choir seems to hold the note for a very long time.

A highlight of the evening was the performance of Essex, a song about being our brothers & sisters keepers. It started with a long, building almost avant-garde aesthetic before erupting into a bopping up tempo riot. The interaction between Oscar Perez and his piano with Charenée’s vocals was dynamic and dazzling. Oscar and Charenée are world class performers and are worth catching.

Charenée Wade performed at Foundry 616 on 16th November and will close the 2018 Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival on 17th November.