Foundry616 has been named in the Top 200 Jazz Clubs in the World by DownBeat Magazine and it doesn’t take much time there to see why.  Cosy and intimate, one can enjoy jazz as it was meant to be and the audio mix the night I went to see Frances Madden’s PRACTICAL MAGIC was brilliant.

This is such a lovely blended show.  It gives the listener a feel for the virtuosity of Madden and her band with a playlist that blends old tunes with more modern rhythms, jazz standards to enjoy with familiarity and some superbly written original work which showcases Madden’s feel for the poetry and impact of a lyric.  All delivered with technical excellence and emotive, personal execution.

Beginning with, Oscar Peterson’s Give Me the Simple Life which has the kind of 40’s swing resonance that respects the work by making it her own.  Several well-known songs are part of the show and all are thoroughly enjoyable with an added flair.  But the original songs are deliciously beguiling: like Practical Magic which is smooth and, in concert with the superb piano and brushed drums, really casts a spell.  I Put A Spell On You later in the evening also melds nicely into the theme with a mellow intro that showcases Madden’s glorious top notes.

There’s no shortage of soulful in the show and Change In Your Eyes has Blues behind it while Side By Side speaks to weapons and judgements in a ballad of hope against a “crazy world”.  A slow piano intro too for The One Who Walks With Me where the “warmth and comfort” themes are picked up as the guitar sneaks in before the double bass brings the wistful, loving song into full voice.

No lack of toe tapping, though with seat dancing hits of samba in Dancing In The Street. A song which really gives the trumpet a workout to huge applause, the brassy, speedy intro is exciting.  The Latin American hints are backed up later when the Tango appears for It’s Always in the Dancing with muted trumpet and off drum stick work.  There’s even a sneaky Hernando hidden away in there.

Madden speaks with ease to the audience and there is intimacy in the occasional intro she gives to the crowd.  Imagine yourself in a smoky Paris jazz club for Paris Melody as our fingers itch to click in time.  And nothing says Paris like the plucked double bass.  And her sharing before I Will Remember You provides a reflective, contemplative edge to the song, without any melancholy, stilling the crowd with delightful playing and orchestration from the heart.

My fave was probably Route 66 where the brushstick work of the drummer is at such breathtaking speed as to sound like a sand shaker and the instrumental mix builds to a classic jazz finish that is absolutely thrilling.

The evening ends with a superb rendering of an extended version of Halleluiah which holds the sold out crowd in thrall.  The sound mixing the whole night has been stellar but this is a triumphal conclusion with a majestic use of reverb and delay, magical orchestration, dazzling virtuosity on the keys and a voice which reaches and holds us in thrall.

Frances Madden [Facebook] played PRACTICAL MAGIC one night only at Foundry616 [Facebook] but check out her website and Facebook for more dates.