Thursday, August 17, 2017

Grace Knight - Stormy Weather (1991)

(Australian 1976 - Present)
Grace Knight is well known as the lead singer of the 1980's Aussie band Eurogliders, for her performance in the ABC show 'Come In Spinner' and her latter career as a jazz diva.
'Come In Spinner' was a big hit on television and the soundtrack album was an even bigger success for the ABC. I was now apparently a ja2zy torch singer and bookings were coming in for me as opposed to Eurogliders. I was now a solo performer and was performing songs from 'Come In Spinner' with a 12-piece band, including a horn section. I swapped my wrestling boots for high heels and my chamois leather Indian top for an evening gown. My extensions were removed and my hair was brushed for the first time in years.
Eurogliders hadn't yet officially split, but we were well on the road of no return. Not many gigs and no money.

With the success of 'Come In Spinner', I would've been mad not to release a similar album immediately. So I went to Eurogliders' record company, Sony Music, and asked if they were interested in doing another album of classics. They were.
My second solo album, Stormy Weather, shot up the jazz charts and one week saw Spinner and Stormy Weather sitting at first and fifth position. Two different records through two different companies.
When it came to singing the classics, performing live was quite a different story, I was used to dancing onstage, but these songs were quite different, they didn't require a manic ballerina to express the wonderful stories. Clear diction seemed more of a prerequisite.

On The Set Of Spinners
Ray Alldridge, an absolute legend in jazz circles, became my music director. Ray was well aware of my pop background and instead of turning his nose up at my audacity for swapping genres, like many people on the jazz circuit did, he encouraged and lead me into each song, playing notes that would help me pitch, smiling at me when I was due to sing, or nodding his head off to the side to tell me not to sing.
Ray is a complete gentleman who plays piano like a deranged demon or a heartbroken angel, depending on what the song demands. I'm sure that without Ray I would not have had such an enduring career.

It frightened me to hear my voice for the first time singing these songs, there was no electronic drum kit, no bass player with his amp turned to maximum volume, no lead guitarist playing so loudly you'd feel the wax dripping across your eardrum trying to protect the sensitive innards, and no backing singers giving you a hand. With these jazz musicians the whole was more important than the individual and I was part of the whole. I fell in love with their sounds—beautiful, rich, wooden, hollow sounds from the double bass, wire brushes kissing tight snare-drum skins and brushing across metal cymbals ever so gently. I could hear every single pluck and whhhhoosh, and of course Ray's playing which I counted on as my safety net. If I happened to fall, Ray would spring me back into place by simply playing a progression of notes that left me nowhere else to go musically.

It took a fair few gigs before I stopped shouting 'SO-PHIS-TI-CA-TED LA-Dy into the microphone and learned that I could actually sing these songs, they didn't require belting, not like Euros, where I could barely speak until midway through the next day 'cause my throat was so rasped from shouting the night before.
At first I used to get nervous working at The Basement in Sydney. The venue was well known to jazz musicians and aficionados alike. It was so small there was nowhere to hide mistakes and fuck ups. The audience crammed in, many seated directly under my nostrils. One night when we played there I wore a particularly short black velvet dress, the stage at The Basement is small and I had little room to move given it was filled with musicians. One of my favourite musicians at the time was a young double bass player named Todd Logan. Such a cutie was Todd, he was barely old enough to drink but he played his beautiful double bass with the heart and soul of a man three times his age and experience.

I was in the dressing room with my manager, Diana, drawing a mouth with gnashing teeth on a strip of white gaffer tape. 'Oh shit, what are you up to now, Grace?'
'Di is this in the right place?'
I patted the gnarly gaffer tape teeth onto my panty-hosed, G-strung arse and swung around to look in the mirror. It looked suitably awful.
'Grace, y'can't. The audience, what'll they think?'
'They won't see, but keep yer eye on Todd.'
'Please don't?'
We pumped out the last set and I said our goodnight's and turned around to acknowledge the band, they all took a bow and as Todd came up from his, I took mine directly in front of him. I bent forward I flicked the back of my dress up exposing my arse and gnarly teeth taped across my crack. I heard a stumble behind me and turned to see Todd on the floor cradling his double bass, the band and audience wondered what on earth had promoted this fall—as I'd imagined, the only person who saw this in the packed Basement was Todd!

Reviews of gigs and of my albums were glowing, reviewers seemed to think it was a marvel a singer could cross over genres from pop to jazz. But the only difference I could discern between the two was space.
It wasn't me who called myself a 'jazz singer', it was a tag placed on me. I'm a singer who happens to work with jazz musicians, but I'm no Ella Fitzgerald, no Sarah Vaughan and I'm certainly no Cleo Laine, I just love singing. I was selling large quantities of albums classified in the 'jazz' section, but having never listened to or studied jazz, I felt a bit like a fraud that would surely one day be caught out. I just pretended it didn't bother me, though inside it did and I was petrified. [extract from Grace Knight: Pink Suit For A Blue Day, New Holland Books, 2010. p212-216]
This post consists of FLACs and MP3's (320kps) ripped from CD and includes full album artwork. Although not officially released on vinyl which is somewhat strange for the time period, this album was released on cassette (see below), so I figure it pretty much meets this blog's charter and deserves a place here.
If you get a chance to read Grace's biography Pink Suit then I don't think you'll be disappointed - she certainly had a tough childhood and managed to be become a very resilient and determined artist.
01 - Fever    3:39
02 - Drinking Again    3:05
03 - Love Or Leave Me    2:14
04 - Guess Who I Saw Today    2:59
05- Walkin' After Midnight    3:09
06 - That Ole Devil Called Love    3:07
07 - Danny Boy    3:08
08 - Stormy Weather    4:25
09 - Momma He Treats Your Daughter Mean    2:57
10 - Crazy    4:27
11 - Picking Up After You    3:38
12 - You'll Never Know    4:25
13 - God Bless The Child    5:34

Vocals - Grace Knight
Drums - John Morrison, Len Barnard,Doug Gallacher, Gordon Rytmeister
Bass - Craig Scott, Jonathan Zwartz, Gary Holgate, Ed Gaston, Dave Pudney, Alex Hewston
Guitar - Rex Goh
Keyboards - Larry Muhoberac
Percussion - Sunil De Silva 

Grace Knight FLACs Link (259Mb)
Grace Knight MP3 Link (110Mb)

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