Roscoe James Irwin – Lost in a Dream: The Musical Life of
Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Dunstan Playhouse, June 15-16
Review by Eleanor Miller
The question you might ask before attending a show that is all about one particular jazz legend is: “Is it an advantage or a disadvantage if I don’t know that much about them?”In the case of this tribute to the musical life of American trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker, it doesn’t really matter. The show caters to die-hard fans, as well as those just looking for a fun night out, which may also teach them a thing or two about the 1950s (mostly) Californian music scene.For the well educated jazz fans in the audience, Melbourne musician and star of the show Roscoe James Irwin presents his own brand-new arrangements of Baker’s classics, backed by a suitably swoony nine-member string section and jazz trio.There is something pretty special hearing chilled out, romantic classics including Someone to Watch Over Me and My Funny Valentine performed live by such a large ensemble of Adelaide musicians.And it all takes place in front of a glittering and elegant backdrop, with coloured lighting that will have you wishing you were dressed up in a 1950s suit, with a cocktail in hand.For those who are new to Baker’s works, Irwin - who has a casual, natural presence on stage – provides a basic run-down of the American musician’s tragic life and also explains what the music means to him personally.He is also kept busy flitting seamlessly between singing, playing trumpet solos and conducting the other musicians on stage.Improvised solos on violin, piano, drums and bass are other highlights of the show, as is a special appearance by a young, emerging Adelaide singer called Jasmine.She arrives on the stage dripping in diamonds and all but steals the show with her sultry rendition of You’re Driving Me Crazy. Wait until you find out how old she is.This is definitely a show for jazz romantics and those who love mid-century sounds and styling. Roscoe James Irwin has created a soulful show from the heart.