Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

If you find your way out of the variable weather and into Lauriston Halls, you’ll be transplanted to the steamy, sleepy (by day) verandahs and balconies of the French quarter in New Orleans. Ali Affleck’s Speakeasy Sessions  give us a glimpse of Louisiana’s eclectic and exciting musical history. We have jazz, the blues, gospel, Creole music. A repertoire that highlights the versatility of this band as well as Affleck‘s elastic vocal range.

Now a local resident but hailing from the land of the show’s title, established jazz musician and singer, Ali Affleck has assembled a brilliant group of musicians to get this speakeasy swinging. Dave Batchelor on the trombone brings a lovely brightness, bounce and a quirky sense of humour to the band. Dave Lee offers a sultry saxophone worthy of a Galaxy advert and a flirty clarinet that conjure up a summer’s evening making mischief. Both men double up on backing vocals on occasion and seem to be having a ball.

Danielle Price, also appearing this Fringe with the Red Hot Rhythm Makers, adds a cheeky tuba to the proceedings and plays with a delightful energy. Her occasional solos are a lovely chance to hear this infrequent addition to a jazz band. The brass instruments are accompanied by a talented, languid guitar- and Ali on her washboard.

Affleck’s voice is the hero of the show. She’s light and perky in the song penned for her by a friend. You’d think she’d been there, witnessing the demise of Storyville in Billie Holliday’s anthem.  She’s full of smoky soul when she sings the blues (Alabama Mines, I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues). And nothing but majestic when she rails against Satan when she sings gospel.

This is a pacy, interesting, musically rich hour from these talented musicians. Check the Fringe website for dates as they’re doing a few more gigs at Lauriston Hall and a handful at the Jazz Bar. Step outside the hubbub in this Speakeasy: it’ll soothe your soul.