MUSIC REVIEW: Luca Manning Quintet

Photo courtesy of: Luca Manning

Anyone who is invited to perform as a guest of Liane Carroll at her Cold Turkey! gig at Ronnie Scott’s is worth checking out. And, boy, is Glasgow-born but London-based jazz vocalist Luca Manning worth checking out.

Joined onstage by four of the finest young jazz musicians in Scotland ‒ Joe Williamson on guitar, Fergus McCreadie on piano, David Bowden on bass and Greg Irons on drums ‒ Luca’s festive gig at The Jazz Bar in Edinburgh was anything but cold and far from being a turkey.

As demonstrated by the running commentary by two gentlemen of a mature vintage which went from “I’ll give them till half past” to “do you want another half and a half pint” to “I better call the wife to tell her I’ll be late”. The following lyrics from the opening song no doubt his wife’s withering reply: “I’m afraid the masquerade is over / And so is love, and so is love.”

I could only stay for the first half ‒ the final song before the break was, fittingly, The Lonesome Road ‒ but the seven-song set was impressive. Well, when I say song, I mean composition, for Luca’s penultimate selection was a self-penned wordless wonder by the name of Landing which, not for the first time, invited his quintet to display their undoubted talents in a series of solos. Fergus McCreadie on piano particularly explosive!

As for Luca’s voice, I would echo Liane Carroll’s quote which features on the “About” section of his website www.lucamanningmusic.com: “With Luca, you get such a complete musical experience. He is so honest and true when he sings. He has a very old soul for someone so young and I look forward to listening to a lot more of his music.”

To which I would add, it’s refreshing that he doesn’t unnecessarily impose himself on a song. And by that I mean, he stands his ground and has the confidence and technique to allow the lyrics and his natural sound to filter through his body, through his “old soul”. Which is not to suggest he plays it safe or fits snugly into the velvet-voiced, easy-listening, crooner category, for he is much more than that ‒ much. In fact, he is at his most daring and impressive when scatting.

And judging by the warm response from the mixed crowd of solo dancers and mutual head-nodders, young in years and young at heart (on more than one occasion, the shaking of a cocktail was counterpointed by the clattering of a dropped walking stick), the road ahead for Luca and his fellow musicians is far from lonesome and, like the lyrics from the same song, “look up, look up”.

Peter Callaghan

Peter Callaghan

Writer at reviewsphere
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Dramatic Studies graduate, actor, writer and drama workshop leader. As well as a performance poet and corporate roleplayer.
Peter Callaghan

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