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JAZZ REVIEW : Banu Gibson and Sextet Lack Punch at OCC

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Singer Banu Gibson and her band, the New Orleans Hot Jazz sextet, played to a packed auditorium in the Robert B. Moore Theatre at Orange Coast College on Saturday night.

The repertoire was songs from the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s, some of which appear on Gibson’s recent CD “You Don’t Know My Mind” (Swing Out records).

When the former dancer opened her set with Sophie Tucker’s “Someday Sweetheart,” heads immediately started to nod in rhythm and hands clapped quietly in time. Her previous visits to this venue obviously have been successful.

Her enthusiasm for her material shows, and she rendered the songs deftly with her delicate, though at times thin, vocals. Similarly, Gibson--who has performed at Disneyland and has toured throughout Europe and America--rallied her band (sax/clarinet player Tom Fischer, trombonist Dave Sager, trumpet player Duke Heitger, pianist David Boeddinghaus, bassist Evan Dain and drummer Jeff Hamilton) to some adept soloing. Boeddinghaus’ stride interlude during Fats Waller’s “The Joint Is Jumping” was exciting, and the horn riffs on a Tommy Dorsey number were particularly satisfying.

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However, the whole occasion lacked spark and emotion. The grit and wit of those who originated Gibson’s material--Louis Armstrong, George Gershwin, Fats Waller, Hoagy Carmichael and Connie Boswell, among others--were missing.

There was little in Gibson and her band’s renditions to suggest any real passion for and connection with the material.

The significance of such beautiful tunes as “If We Never Meet Again,” once sung by Armstrong, and “I Must Have That Man” by Adelaide Hall was lost in the well-mannered effort to re-create the tunes authentically.

Gibson’s offerings were well received by her audience, but the original versions of these songs ultimately remain more vital and engaging.

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