Saturday Soirée (Jan. 25, 2014) – Feat. Laura Reznek, Emily Allan and the Tim & Rosie Duo

Saturday Soirées are back at Cocoa Nymph! A few years ago, Cocoa Nymph had a gig on the last Saturday of each month for independent artists. Featuring performers such as Matt Epp, Ann Vriend and the Sidewalk Cellist, the series was a nice, intimate way to get to know a (usually) local artist better.

A/N: It’s kind of funny that this is coming right after my partner-in-crime just posted about the Hot Chocolate Festival, but I do vouch for their drinking chocolate as well! More on this may come down the pipe.

The series had gone dormant for a little while, but now they’re back on track, which is great because West Point Grey will be starved for live music once the Cellar closes down. Commencing at 8:00 PM, one can walk from one of the nearby restaurants and sit in – a kind of dinner and a show. The best part is that this takes place in a chocolate shop, so you can satisfy your sweet tooth with their array of bon bons, hot chocolates, or other delectable confections. For these shows, coffee, tea, and a range of beers and wine are also available.

Starting off the show was Laura Reznek. Playing the piano as she sings, she has a bit of an old-school vibe to her. Her voice is airy and smooth, with a distinct edge that she lets come out once in a while, giving her a throwback quality, almost like a classic blues singer. Her songs are often nostalgic and at times funny, sad or both at the same time. Then that rasp comes off, and I feel like she’s winking at us behind her façade, a touch of sarcastic humor that lifts us, lifts herself out of whatever trance she may lay onto us. This is apparent from the final song she sang for us, a charming little ditty titled Panther which, in her words, is called that because someone at one of her concerts told her that’s what the song’s name was. And I guess the customer, in this case the listener, is always right!

As there was a wide variety of drinks, I think the cabernet merlot on offer was a perfect accent to Laura – powerful, peppery with the slightest hint of sweetness, carrying a long, smooth finish. Here’s a sample of her:

 

Following Laura were the guitar and vocal stylings of Emily Allan. From Bowen Island, Emily had a lighter touch to her performance. Her voice is clean, warm and absorbing; it enveloped me in an aural embrace. Listening to her songs, I hear stories, but nothing with too serious a bent. For example, one she performed for us basically was a guide about how to hide from someone in the ocean. Her voice carried perfectly in the coziness of Cocoa Nymph – even though I was in a small crowd of people, I felt as if I was lying across from her with a campfire between us, her guitar in her hands, singing me gently to sleep with stories.

While Laura and red wine matched up perfectly, Emily was my choice to cozy up with a nice cup of hot drinking chocolate – I would say Cocoa Nymph’s hazelnut, with salted caramel marshmallows would do the trick. I could only find this sample of her (she’s the one on the left):

 

Rounding off the night was the Tim & Rosie Duo. It’s not uncommon to hear instrumental duets, but it was the first time I’ve heard piano and baritone saxophone (which in itself is quite rare to see since the instrument is darned heavy) without a drum to tie it all together.

Tim Sars and Roisin Adams really create a unique sound together. Rattling off a bunch of pieces with a jazz rhythm, it was a treat to hear them meld the groove with all sorts of things, be it Latin and Baltic beats, a soul vibe, and even a clownish circus feel. His sax has a deep, gravelly quality tinged with a breathiness and wild abandon. Her piano has a solid character; a funkiness and liveliness which feels like she was a character lifted off the pages of Charlie Brown. Also singing at times, their voices carried a unique harmony – he being cheerful, direct and loud, and her being hazy, dreamy and edgy. It felt like I was hearing a Cuban band leader combine with a chanson singer on vinyl, yet somehow working even though on paper it shouldn’t. Weaving their way through the multitude of songs, I was charmed, entertained and intrigued, all at once.

I’m not sure what this duo would be in terms of a drink. Maybe it’s not something that I would’ve found that night. If I had to pick something, though, it would be a cocktail – a Sazerac. Smoky, powerful, a touch sweet, and cloaked in mystery.

There’s no video of the two performing together, but here are samples of Tim (sax and voice) and Roisin (piano, on the left) separately:

 

 

I really enjoyed everyone tonight and I hope to see their performances in the future. Thanks to them and to Cocoa Nymph for putting on the concert!

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