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Thursday 6: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Julija Jacenaite & Alexys de Alfaro @ Jazz Cafe Mezzanine - January 22

(Review and photo of Irene Birkett & James Birkett by Russell/Photos of Julija Jacenaite & Alexys de Alfaro courtesy of Mike Tilley)

Julija Jacenaite (vocals, piano); Alexys de Alfaro (guitar, vocals) + Irene Birkett (vocals); James Birkett (guitar)

It was to be an afternoon of four quarters. Vocalist Julija Jacenaite opened on piano with original material from her days back home in Lithuania. Part classical, part playful composition, this unexpected selection revealed another side to JJ. 

Alexys de Alfaro stepped up to play a solo spot of his own. Deploying looped rhythms our guitarist from Peru improvised on a series of compositions variously taking the form of the bolero, bossa and samba including an original number titled Black Butterfly.   

Following a short interval Julija introduced two guests (this was to be the third of four sets). Irene Birkett (one of JJ's vocal students) sang two numbers. The first of them (Love Me or Leave Me) featured guitar accompaniment by one James Birkett! The second number (I Can't Get Started) heard Irene scatting for a while alongside Julija with James adopting a supporting role. We can expect to hear more from Irene in the future. 

The final quarter (re)united Julija and Alexys in their now familiar duo format. Fly Me to the Moon then Agua de Beber (JJ singing in Portuguese) propelled the Lithuanian-Peruvian partnership into the stratosphere. The Lennon and McCartney songbook yields many riches and on this occasion JJ chose to sing a winning All My Loving. When the mood takes her Julija can wring out a lyric and she did just that on At Last. The afternoon drew to a close in a well attended Mezzanine Cafe with Mas Que Nada and its inviting singalong 'opa, opa, opa'.       
Russell 

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