Cabaret Festival review: Roscoe James Irwin – Lost in a Dream

Australian musician Roscoe James Irwin re-creates the music of American jazz trumpeter and singer Chet Baker in this fittingly soulful tribute.

Jun 16, 2019, updated Jun 17, 2019
Lost in a Dream: Roscoe James Irwin. Photo: Liam Davidson

Lost in a Dream: Roscoe James Irwin. Photo: Liam Davidson

Roscoe James Irwin is a talented trumpeter, singer and composer/arranger best known for his work with The Cat Empire and The Bamboos. On stage for this Cabaret Festival show, he has assembled a fabulous string orchestra and an accomplished jazz trio elegantly lit against a tasteful, shimmering backdrop.

Lost in a Dream is slick, professional and easy on the ear. The show begins not with patter and chat, but with Irwin head down, his mind and soul immediately into his music. All the other musos are right with him – the music is their focus.

The audience is immersed in Chet Baker’s “This is Always” and “Someone to Watch Over Me”, and the tone and style of the performance is well and truly set.

There is simplicity to Irwin’s patter as he intersperses songs with snippets of information about Baker’s life, songs and music. It is evident the influence that the American musician with the unique singing style has had on him; Irwin’s voice is also soft, gentle and melodious.

His arrangements of these jazz standards provide opportunities for each of the musicians to shine, and there is much to appreciate in the exceptional performances of Ben Riley (drums), David Goodwin (piano) and Tim Bowen (bass).

There is a string of hits – including “Always You”, “I Fall in love Too Easily”, “My Heart Stood Still” and “It’s Always You– to put Baker fans in jazz heaven. Irwin also welcomes to the stage Jasmine, a local 15-year-old singer whose confident performance brings a different energy to the show; her rendition of “You’re Driving Me Crazy” received rapturous applause.

Throughout the performance we learn a little more about the personal life of Baker, who despite his music success was a fragile, complicated man who battled addictions and whose life ended tragically. The concert finishes with “She Was Too Good to Me”, a fitting tribute to a singer and musician who sang wistfully, soulfully with melancholy lyrics and sweet trumpet solos that will be played time after time.

Roscoe James Irwin played at the Dunstan Playhouse on Saturday and Sunday as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. See all InDaily’s Cabaret Festival stories and reviews here.

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