One of the best, confesses jazz critic

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CANBERRA jazz duo In2Deep

Music / “In2deep” album launch. Rachel McNally (vocals) and Mike Dooley (piano and vocals) and guests. At the North Belconnen Uniting Church, December 19. Reviewed by TONY MAGEE.

I’ll dive straight into the deep end by saying that this was one of the best jazz concert performances I’ve ever attended. And that’s covering a period of more than 40 years.

Singer Rachel McNally has a unique and superb voice. A curious combination of opera style at some times and jazz/rock at other times.

Her vocal phrasing is more aligned with jazz. She has the ability to reach low notes similar to Sarah Vaughan and a middle and upper register that reminded me in some ways of Doris Day.

In addition, McNally has a perfect sense of pitch and there was never a moment where one could say she was flat or sharp. Every note was perfect.

Pianist Michael Dooley, who wrote many of the songs in this concert, played with sensitivity and lyrical phasing, combined with a beautiful tone production.

Alas there was no program, but suffice to say that the entire concert was a masterclass in quality music making.

Another astonishing thing about this concert was the “and guests”, which in the publicity there was no clue has to who these would be.

Well, I have to say that the “guests” were of the highest calibre. Miroslav Bukovsky on trumpet and flugelhorn; Con Campbell, tenor sax; Richard Manderson, alto sax; Darren Ormsby, trombone; Camilo Gonzalez, guitar; Phil Dick, bass; Steve Richards, drums; Michael’s son Anthony Dooley on percussion and three members of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra playing strings: Tim Wickham, violin; Iska Sampson, viola and Alex Voorhoeve, cello.

Michael Dooley added a humorous ending to the list of musicians by introducing another of his sons, William Dooley, also playing violin. To quote Michael: “William wants to be in the Canberra Symphony Orchestra – but he’s a bit young for that at the moment. Patience boy – patience!”

Dooley’s original compositions are of an extremely high calibre and two that stood out for me were a rhumba based on spoonerisms entitled “Keep on Running” and “Blessed”, which he wrote off-the-cuff while playing a gig at the Hyatt Hotel in 2017.

Throughout the concert, both Miroslav Bukovsky and Con Campbell delivered superb improvised solos during many of the pieces. World-class playing at its finest and all right here in Canberra.

In closing, I would like to mention especially that all the arrangements, including for the four horns, were by Michael Dooley.

This concert was a huge success by both the choice of musicians and the quality of the compositions.


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