"What's going on?!" Exclaimed Charlie, on his show this Saturday, in response to Mariza's semi-spontaneous rendition of Sinatra's 'Fly Me to the Moon' at the end of last weeks Later. I would hazard a guess - a songbird escaping her cage.
For, correct me if I'm wrong, didn't Mariza begin her singing career doing all sorts of cover versions in bars? Then along came the recording deal, and with it, the requirement to specialise. And then along came success - effectively meaning any diversion from the Fado path could prove to be career suicide, unless she did it very very slowly, which is what she appears to be doing on her new album.
The idea of this enigmatic woman timidly tapping on Jools Holland's dressing room door, as he tinkled away on the piano, almost too shy to ask him if he knew any Sinatra songs, is both touching and amusing. When he said he didn't, she still pushed for him to improvise something, just so she could step out of that cage for a moment or two.
I wish I'd taped the performance so I could better describe to you the different facial expressions on her always expressive face, and the more flamboyant gestures. But, in a nutshell, this woman was clearly having fun. She was almost swaggering, for goodness sake!
We already know that by moving at all during her Fado concerts Mariza has upset some traditionalists. It seems unnatural to me that someone who loves singing so much, should have to be restricted to just one genre, and essentially a melancholy genre at that. For some reason I am reminded of the female Motown acts, who willingly, though I'm sure a little reluctantly, took their deportment lessons so they could learn to move the right (white) way on stage, and not upset the natives - keep those elbows in, and keep those butts still!
I enjoyed this other Mariza, and I hope the next time any of you attend one of her concerts you will be shouting out for 'Fly Me to the Moon.' Just to see the look on her face, and to see if she actually takes up your request.
Whilst we might look down on the cabaret or pub singer, at least they can sing what they damn well please. Hats off to Mariza for forgetting questions of image and dignity, and just doing what she felt like doing at that exact moment in time.
Can't resist publishing this email from Ian Anderson, who should know better than send me remarks that he may not want to be passed on:
Can't be seen to be agreeing with Howard in public too often, and didn't hear your show as me and Cronshaw were up at Oxford F**k Festival enjoying Jaune Toujours, Senegalese kora players etc, but I thought that little coda was the icing on the cake which made her seem even less pretentious than ever. Very charming and natural. And can't argue with the voice. Maybe I've been listening to too much Anita O'Day lately
Never mind Ian - I'm sure we'll find something else to disagree on soon. I shall look forward to it.
Mariza probably shifted more copies of her album by making people smile when she turned from Fado statue into swinging Jazzer, than she did whilst doing songs from her new album - viewers love those off-the-cuff moments.
We all know that world music can have the reputation for being a little stuffy and academic. Anything which helps dispel such preconceptions has to be welcome. She always seems so charming, sharp and amusing in interviews, and through that moment, she gave Later viewers a glimpse of this more impulsive, rebellious side. A side which fits in better with the vibe of the show than her austere performance persona.
I love Mariza and she can do no wrong, but this was partly connected to her choice of Frank Sinatra singing an English version of a Brazilian song during our ping pong a couple of weeks ago, which really was terrible
strangely, Iliham Al Madfai also chose Fly Me to the Moon during his show with me a year or so ago.
I can never thank you enough for bringing Mariza to a wider world. Her first appearance in November 2001 was a landmark in the story of Later With Jools as well as the moment that launched Mariza's career.
I don't think she is as strange to your viewers as you may think she is - in my experience, people have much wider tastes than they are given credit for. Maybe I was under an illusion, but it sounded to the TV listener at home as if Mariza's first song was greeted by louder applause than anything else in the show. Was that not how it appeared in the stduio?
I was quite taken with Arcade Fire too, while not being able to cope with Foo Fighters - David Grohl isn't a good song writer, doesn't sing very well and isn't handsome. What is it all about? I know he was in Nirvana, but that can't still be the only reason for liking him, can it? His drummer looked great though!
and this is from an email from Andy Wood, whose company Como No is the leading promoter of Latin (Americn/Iberian) artists in the UK, including Lhasa:
The view in the Como No bunker is that a large part of the Later audience mentally switches off when the token world music act, squeezed in for one number with their stripped down acoustic version comes on.
Therefore when Mariza does Frank they maybe switch back on again and maybe start to think that this might be for them too.
This week it's Lhasa, although she resisted Jools overtures to join him in the Jennifer Warnes/Joe Cocker classic "Love Lifts Us Up Where we Belong."
Dry humour is hard to gauge in emails sometimes, so we should clarify that the last sentence is Andy's joke
Dry humour is hard to gauge, but that had to be a joke! It reminds me of an e-mail exchange I had a year ago with a great friend of mine who now lives in Tokyo. Whereas once our shared sense of humour could be satisfied in quick-fire banter, we now have to tap out our spontaneous attempts at humour, and bounce them half way around the world to each other. On this occasion we were exchanging the most unlikely juxtapositions of artists with cover versions. This kind of joke only works if you can then imagine in your mind's ear, what the end product would sound like. Funny that both Mark and Andy have come up with the first two world music examples in the above postings. We tended to focus on post punk acts covering songs from the musicals. Howard Devoto singing 'I Feel Pretty' springs to mind.
But back to our topic. What producer Mark really needs to do is start bringing in some of the world music acts that have a bit more edge, such as DJ Dolores. Or even better - Shukar Collective - they seem to upset quite a few world music fans, so by a kind of warped logic, maybe Later fans would love them.
And what is it with Later, the way the program always seem to neuter any world acts? This has happened so many times now, and I suspect, given Andy's comments, that it happened again with Lhasa. The woman has a cracking live band, capable of stirring up quite a cauldron of noise on tracks like 'Anywhere on this Road' but I bet it's one of the you-could-hear-a-pin-drop tracks, that she's allowed to perform between two tedious retro-rock workouts on next weeks show.
anybody who's seen mariza perform live, in the uk at least, will know she has quite a mischievous sense of humour. i recall some broken-english wisecrack about her stripy stockings under the magnificent ballgowns, and her not being able to get up without help from sitting on the edge of the stage. she's also been know to go walkabout amongst a hugely appreciative audience. Frankly, i'd still rather hear her perform her take on fado than sinatra covers, but i'd also be the last to deny her or any artist the right to stretch out and have a bit of fun. it wasn't so bad anyway, was it? You go, girl!
World acts with more edge, Yes! DJ Dolores would be good on Later ... not so sure about the Shukar Collective though.
How about Ozomatli or Amparanoia (in full big band mode)? I reckon they could knock the more globa-phobic members of the studio audience out of their bigoted stupor.
PS I wonder if there's any truth in the roumour that professional misery guts Mark E. Smith would only allow The Fall to go on Later if they had it written into their contract that Jools couldn't play boogie-woogie piano while they were performing
If you're reading this Mark - give Konono No 1 (Congotronics) a listen - they would seriously give any grunge/metal/indy/funk/soul act a run for their money on the show, and I'm sure they are a visual spectacle too. They are actually in the UK next week supporting Tortoise at the RFH. For a description of what they are like, read my album review in the New Releases section of this Feedback forum.
I'll tell you what's wrong with "Later" and it can be summed up in two words............Jools and Holland. You can tell he has absolutely no interest in the token 'World' artist, hence Howard's spot-on comment about neutering, be it Mariza, Khaled or Cheb Mami and the way he always manages to mispronounce their names-Tinariwen being a particular recent favourite-is just bloody irritating.