Jazz A Cappella - The Oxford Gargoyles

You’ve got plenty of selection for Oxford based A Cappella groups at the fringe, all of whom seem to converge en masse at C venues. This is the Gargoyles 4th appearance at the fringe, and despite the competition they’re still doing very well. The show delivers a wide variety of jazz classics, from some of the most celebrated works that get the audience wriggling in their seats to some less famous pieces that extol their own knowledge of jazz. Each tune has been very well crafted to suit the A Cappella style of singing, all being well balanced between the sections, with no risk of bass drowning soprano voices or other inherent problems. Thankfully they are located in C-1, a room with possibly the best acoustics on the fringe which are perfectly suited for the group. The effect is one of having the singers’ right next to your seat. They begin with some gentle jazz to ease the crowd into their style and then plunge into the more recognisable tunes. To each song they have their own personal input, changing the tempo or mood of certain works to make them seem slightly more special. This effect ranges from a slow and sultry “fly me to the moon” to a much more upbeat “let’s face the music and dance”. The climax of the show for me was one of the best A Cappella versions of Nat King Cole’s “when I fall in love”, of which I’ve heard a disturbing number of versions. It was exemplary of what each song tried to achieve, bringing out the subtleties of every note in the tune and coming together to be quite overpowering. The performance did however lack certain chemistry onstage. These groups are meant to function together seamlessly, in music and interaction. While the group had a well rehearsed ease onstage, enjoying and moving with the music, the largest and most noticeable man onstage looked perpetually in terror at being on the stage and stuck out like a stiff, sore thumb. Later his awkwardness was used for comic effect, but it ultimately stopped the show from being slick and unified. Nevertheless people don’t go to see these shows just to see how the Gargoyles interact; they go for good music and vocal excellence, which it delivers.

Reviews by Theo Barnes

Rain

★★★★★

The Forum

★★★

Fire and the Rose

★★★★

The Blurb

After their 2008 Fringe sell-out show, the Gargoyles are back with their black-tied splendour and jaw-dropping vocal gymnastics! An impressive array of well-known jazz, outstandingly executed. 'Sheer brilliance' (ThreeWeeks). www.theoxfordgargoyles.co.uk