London songstress Mica Paris’s show might be a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, but she isn’t at all interested in delivering an Ella Fitzgerald impression.
Her tone and voice are completely her own – a deep, gospel-tinged voice, redolent of her roots in the Jamaican Pentecostal church.
Paris, in other words, comes with energy, and finds an audience in similar mood. They don’t have to be asked twice to get on their feet, and are ready with full-throated call-and-response choruses throughout the night.
In Paris’s approach, Summertime is a richly soulful epic; The Beatles’ Can’t Buy Me Love sounds like it could have been written by Cole Porter; Love for Sale is a slow-swinging shakeout.
A funked-up version of A Night in Tunisia is a tribute to Dizzy Gillespie and his era, backed by a tight trio of piano, double bass and drums.
The only quibbles are that the players only have rare moments to explore and improvise around the songbook classics, and Paris might have introduced more subtlety at times. That said, the Cork crowd came to swing, and Paris delivers. “I didn’t even have to warm you up!” she says, sincerely pleased, you felt, with the welcome.
At the Green Room in the Opera House, programmed for a third year by leading local light Paul Dunlea, Paul Booth’s saxophone-led quartet explored his latest album, Travel Sketches, inspired by his time touring with the likes of Steve Winwood.
A punchy Medina Scuffle is a highlight, complemented by a typically bright-toned Ryan Quigley cameo on trumpet. Later at the same venue, bassist Ronan Guilfoyle brought together a talented ensemble to explore the many musics of Brazil.
Chris Guilfoyle stood out on guitar, while Venezuelan Leopoldo Osio’s fast-fingered piano playing was a treat.
Aleka Potinga provided the Portuguese lyrics with aplomb, while drummer Andre Antunes (an actual Brazilian) propelled a bright, ear-opening, transportive evening. It was cold and wet outside, but all sunshine and samba at the Green Room.