To spend an evening with Gunhild Carling is to loll around on the back porch of the homestead of the music gods while their precocious, loveable daughter plays with her musical toys.
Gunhild is a Swedish jazz musician and multi-instrumentalist who gives every ounce of energy and focus she has when she performs.
At the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, she has gathered a collection of fine jazz musicians whose brief seems to be, play the songs in the set list but keep a close eye on your leader because at any moment, on a whim, she might change gears mid-song, point to you and put you in the limelight for a solo.
There was no rest for her band and I don’t think they’d have it any other way because the stage was charged with pure joy.
At times, Gunhild’s interaction with the band was like a child playing with her beloved toys in a spirit of wonderment and experimentation.
In the Spiegeltent, a glance around the audience revealed a sea of smiling faces, often breaking into bursts of hysterical laughter as Gunhild applied herself to a new challenge or used her cheeky, come hither persona to lure us into a new musical experience.
From a lesson in trombone to bagpipes improvising a version of Amazing Grace, which had been requested impromptu from the audience, and scaling up to her swell original songs and the famous three-trumpets-played-at-once act, everybody present at this cabaret show was awash with ecstasy.
It is impossible to list highlights of the show without writing out the set list. La Vie En Rose was given new life, It Don’t Mean A Thing was given new meaning and It Had To Be You was finally given its proper context; it had to be Gunhild Carling.
To witness this accomplished woman lead a band with such firm, perfumed, and beglittered benevolence was itself a pure delight.
To not see Gunhild Carling perform is to remain impoverished in jazz, swing, love, and life. This is a must see and a must hear.