Tucked away in the intimate and comfortable setting of the Scottish Arts Club, Canadian singer Daniela Nardi and her group Espresso Manifesto, comprising Ron Davis (piano), Chris Jennings (double bass), Neil Paton (drums) and Kevin Barrett (guitar/ musical director) treated us to an hour of smooth jazz, originating from the undervalued but rich repertoire of the Italian songbook. The songs were a mix of covers of Paolo Conte and his contemporaries, Caterina Valente, in addition to some of Nardi’s own material.
A very playful, poised, vivacious, sexy and suave performance.
The programme was interspersed with insightful commentary from Nardi. She drew the audience’s attention to different aspects of the songs and the ideas behind them, framing and linking the set in a way that made it even more enjoyable and helping to transcend language barriers. Nardi’s performance was personable, intimate, humorous and passionate. Her voice maintains some of the rustiness of Paolo Conte, whilst somehow managing to maintain a soft, velvety quality, with a softness of tone so characteristic of Canadians, yet with the fieriness and dedication of an Italian, making for a worldly and incredible raw human performance that transcended culture.
The intimate atmosphere of the room made this a very special and heartfelt performance, full of life and spontaneity, and yet incredibly laid back at the same time. The band communicated very well throughout, seeming very synchronised. Solos were energetic and vibrant, with some great playing from all of the individuals throughout. The playfulness of the ensemble helped communicate a music that is simultaneously passionate and cheeky, such as in Enzo Ionacci’s Giovanni telegrafista and in the finale, Conte’s Via Con Me. More soulful numbers, such as Nardi’s own song, Hands, made for a very balanced and enjoyable programme that showcased Nardi’s impressive emotional and vocal range, with its numerous colours and subtleties.
Every musician seemed to live and breathe the music, and Nardi is a woman who appears to passionately feel what she sings, all whilst bringing the audience with her along the way. Daniela Nardi’s Espresso Manifesto was a very playful, poised, vivacious, sexy and suave performance. A fantastic introduction to Italian jazz, or for existing fans.