American Voices, an independent non-profit American NGO,
presented an exceptional concert of jazz and blues at the Grand Nanta
Ballroom in the Westin Hotel, Chiang Mai.
a great combination - CoCo York and Mike Del Ferro on piano.
The ballroom, set up for an audience of 600, was packed
an hour before the concert started, and another 100 chairs did not solve the
left) Mike Del Ferro, CoCo York, drummer Roy Dackus, and bassist Yasuhito
Mori received flowers from (not shown) US Consul General Eric Rubin and
Prinya Parnthong, vice governor of Chiang Mai (also not shown).
With so many people eager to listen to jazz and blues, it
was no surprise the mood was excitement right from the beginning. US Consul
General Eric Rubin told the audience that this tribute to jazz and blues was
to pay homage to 100 years of blues. When he added that US president George
W. Bush declared 2003 the ‘Year of the Blues’, he received many smiles,
giggles and chuckles from the Americans in the audience. He said that it was
his personal honor and privilege to introduce the Mike Del Ferro Trio and
CoCo York, who currently tour the world to bring American music to audiences
who normally would not have the chance to listen to such world class
chairs were just not enough, and another 70 stood for the whole evening.
That’s a crowded house.
John Ferguson, the artistic director of American Voices
since 1993, explained the program of the evening, which was a combination of
jazz and opera during the first part, and blues and jazz after the
with the folks in the audience - CoCo’s way.
A combination of opera and jazz? There was a question
mark in the air, but when the Mike Del Ferro Trio started with an Italian
love song ‘Non ti scodra di me’ (Don’t forget me), followed by a quick
jazz intermezzo with a drum solo by Roy Dackus, the applause became
spontaneous. By song number three, ‘E lucevan le stelle’, from Puccini,
there was no doubt that jazz and opera really go well together.
musicians received a standing ovation.
Pianist Mike Del Ferro, drummer Roy Dackus and bassist
Yasuhito Mori literally teased the audience. Their interpretation of Puccini
was moving from opera to jazz and to salsa, enriched with drum, bass and
piano solos, complete with changing tempos and rhythm.
Mai Vice Governor Prinya Parnthong and his wife enjoyed the show, as did US
Consul General Eric Rubin and his wife Nicole.
The last song before the break was ‘Habanera’ where
once again jazz, opera and salsa met in exciting crescendos, with drummer
Roy Dackus changing from the drum set to a Cajon, which many people of the
audience probably had mistaken as a bass box.
perfection between Mike and Roy Dackus.
Part two was dedicated to the blues, and the minute CoCo
York entered the stage she had everyone under her spell, saying to the
audience that they’d better clap when she sings! It was a vocal feast, her
humor while joking with the audience, her interpretation of well known songs
such as ‘Georgia on my mind’ and ‘Unchain my heart’, interpreted so
meaningfully with life and vigor that the audience was gripped and her
stunning voice gave everybody goose bumps.
four musicians again gave their very best for the Chiang Mai audience.
CoCo didn’t show any respect to the TV cameras and
technicians, disappearing at will to see how long it would be before the
camera man would find her again, but she met her match with around 30 nuns
in the audience almost making her stumble for words. She was looking for
excuses regarding her language, but at the same time asking for forgiveness
with an unplanned (and un-rehearsed) gospel song, especially for the
‘sisters’ in the audience. The audience, including the nuns, were openly
clapping and laughing.
his heart out at the drums - Roy Dackus.
After the touching gospel ‘Making heaven my home’,
CoCo performed one overpowering song after another, seducing the audience,
organizing little interactive games, and receiving in exchange the hearts of
more than 700 people from Chiang Mai who could not get enough of her.
looked like a speaker box was the rather unusual “Cajon”. Sit on it,
beat it, and you’ll be surprised by all the bells and whistles this box
CoCo York’s emotions, her charming, warm personality
with just the right amount of mischief, and her way of singing the blues has
given her an enduring fan club in northern Thailand.
looks pensive as the band plays on.
Ferguson, the artistic director of American Voices.
came, sang, and conquered. Blues at it’s very best performed by an
performed one overpowering song after another, and the performance was just
little girl really didn’t know the song, but tried hard to cope with CoCo.
realizing that there were nuns in the audience. They certainly did not have
love to confuse people and make a mess; what do you think the cameras will
see now after I’ve left the stage? NOTHING.”