Popular entertainer James Flynn returned for a swinging weekend of jazz on the 4th and 5thof June. Flynn has earned his stripes as an international performer as far away as the USA, Europe, Asia and all around Australia. Perth has been lucky enough to have him in residence, between tours abroad, for the last 20 years. So it was no surprise that both his shows were immediate sell-outs. Now he has moved to Denmark (in Southern West Australia) so it won’t be until October until we are fortunate enough to see him again in Perth.
It was a fabulous ensemble that Flynn had assembled for the night; Mike Nelson – piano, Ray Walker – guitar, Adam Springhetti – bass, Bronton Ainsworth – drums & Paul Millard – saxes. All but Ainsworth and Springetti were mature players and it showed; their timing and rhythmic interplay were superb. Not that the younger players were any less impressive, in fact the whole group functioned as a well-oiled machine, nevertheless allowing lovely emotional solos to demonstrate their personal talents.
Flynn bounced into the first set with “I’m Your Errand Boy For Rhythm” and the Nat King Cole piece of nonsense “Flim Flam Sauce”. From there he slipped into a smooth version of “Invitations”. Flynn is well regarded for his interpretations of Sinatra, Buble and Nat King Cole; he is a masterful crooner.
However he is enough of a showman to keep the pace up with a variety of songs as well as his between song patter, perhaps a little too much of the latter, witty though he is, there was no doubt from the audience appreciation that they were there primarily to hear the music. The ultra-romantic trio of “I’ve Got You Under my Skin”, “Teach Me Tonight” and “Just the Way You Look Tonight” had the audience swooning. From there Flynn essayed into birthdays in the crowd and had the audience in the palm of his hand singing Happy Birthday to the 3 delighted female recipients.
After a break for a blistering instrumental number from the musicians, Flynn returned to the stage bearing his mobile phone aloft. He had used the opportunity to call his father in Scotland. His father was at home, his mother was out shopping, nevertheless we all joined in serenading his Dad with “Just One of Those Things”.
Around this time there was curious beeping included in the music, perplexing performers and audience alike. Was it a new rhythmic device? No, it was the fire alarm, luckily sotto voce. After the intrepid manager Tony Wallace attempted to amend the situation, a couple of firemen appeared, probably summoned on instant alert, to grapple with the alarm box. They managed, to quell the beast to the relief of all, in rapid time.
In a more contemporary vein there was a Beatles number, a Stevie Wonder and a wonderful version of the Van Morrison standard “Moondance”. For “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’ Flynn encouraged the audience to sing along with the choruses, which they did with alacrity. “It’s Alright with Me” featured marvellous ensemble work and terrific individual solos. As I’ve said the solo work was simply outstanding from all of these musicians. I will however mention Paul Millard whose virtuosity ranged from saxophone to exceptional flute work.
The performance closed with a brilliant, sizzling version of “Fever”. A truly satisfying evening in every sense.
The Ellington Jazz Club
James Flynn Quintet
Venue: The Ellington Jazz Club | 191 Beaufort St, Perth WA
Dates: 4 – 5 June 2021