OK, first of all, this is one, shall we say intimate performance space. I don't think there were more than 40 people in there. We were up close to the band, and it's not like they had a lot of room to stretch out.
I first saw George Cole about three years ago when we attended This Concert. I've been getting emails since then, but this was the first time that a gig happened in the right time and the right place, in this case, a fairly quick cab ride from my front door.
When I saw him then, it was with the Hot Club of Berkeley and now he has his own quintet. If you're a Django Rheinhardt/Stéphane Grappelli type, you'd totally love this. Also if you like uptempo jazz vocals reminiscent of Jackie and Roy? Again, this is up your alley.
George Cole makes me a little swoony with the guitar playing and self-deprecating charm and good looks. He writes most of the group's material and both his vocals and some of the writing are reminiscent of Matt Dennis, with a hint of Buddy Greco as well. The female vocalist, Molly Mahoney, was in hubby's words "a fox" and her singing has a purity of tone that reminded me of a young Doris Day or even some of Anita O'Day's big band vocals. The harmony in the duets was gorgeous.
I had been expecting a show of standards, but the only non-original in the show was an awesome rendition of Al Jolson's Avalon. (I know, normally when I talk about Avalon, it's NOT Al Jolson.) But I really loved all of George's originals. They each alluded to the older styles without directly copying anything. Since I can't get through the day without a Barrowman reference...any of these songs would be PERFECT for John's range and sense of humor.
Just an all-around fun performance. It really did feel like getting to see great jazz in someone's living room. They'll be back there on New Year's Eve playing two shows, and we're certainly considering it. If you're in the Bay Area (or anywhere else for that matter) and you get a chance to see George Cole you should definitely take it. I promise you will not be disappointed.
Hubby was so inspired, he's now sitting next to me in bed, attempting to play jazz standards on his mandolin.