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Jazz and all that at D.F. Cook Recital Hall

Bill Brennan and Andrea Koziol, joined by bassist Andrew Downing (right) at the D.F. Cooke Recital Hall at Memorial University.
Bill Brennan and Andrea Koziol, joined by bassist Andrew Downing (right) at the D.F. Cooke Recital Hall at Memorial University. - Wendy Rose
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

There wasn’t a feeling of “Monday blues” among jazz fans in the capital city on Monday, with the launch of Bill Brennan and Andrea Koziol kicking off the week at the D.F. Cook Recital Hall at Memorial University.

Joined by bassist Andrew Downing, Brennan, Koziol and Brennan performed selections from 2019’s “I’ll Be Seeing You.” The newly released collection features original works by Brennan and Koziol, plus renditions of renowned songs by beloved musicians from the jazz, pop and folk world.

“A jazz match made in heaven,” the pair met at a one-year-old’s birthday party, and soon began touring and performing as Chesterfield Inlet in mainland Canada in the mid-1990s, independently producing an original album titled “Mario Russell.”

At that time, they “toured in borrowed cars,” and “slept in bathtubs” – present day, the pair looked far more glamorous on the D.F. Cooke stage, with Koziol performing in a gorgeous, sparkly silver evening gown, swirling and twirling as she danced through their set.

The show began with Mort Dixon’s “Bye Bye Blackbird,” the opening track on the album.

Next was an original, “Couldn’t It Be,” a love song written together via long distance.

Koziol explained she is the kind of person who still stoops to pick up loose change on the ground, a sentiment echoed in a chorus line inferring that “love turns pennies into gold.”

The group followed the tracklist of “I’ll Be Seeing You” in order, then performed Stevie Wonder’s “Tell Me Something Good.” After a heavy bass intro, Brennan began tickling the ivories, seemingly semi-twerking at the piano bench. It was obvious the group was having fun performing their selections for a crowd of friends, family, colleagues and fans.

The show continued with recognizable jams performed by legendary musicians, like “Fly Me To The Moon,” as made famous by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Nat King Cole and Judy Garland.

Brennan and Koziol’s rendition of “Cheek to Cheek” absolutely outshone Rod Stewart’s version, and their stellar musicianship and collaborative prowess continued with Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today,” and Paul Simon’s “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover.”

A personal highlight was that the duo seemed to create a darker tune from the familiar classic, drawing out the lighthearted pop feel and replacing it with brooding vocals and drawn out, haunting melodies.

The vibe shifted with “Lighthouse,” another original piece. Vastly different from the version presented on Koziol’s “Half Way Sweet” album, this performance was actually my favourite of the set.

The group played 11 songs in about 1.5 hours, finishing off with the title track, “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
Receiving a standing ovation, the group returned for an encore, once again wowing the crowd with Koziol’s impressive vocal capabilities and Brennan’s reliably radiant piano playing.

Considering that the album was created while “goofing around, eating yogurt and drinking red wine,” the final product is an impressive collection of tunes sure to be beloved in borrowed cars, bathtub beds and maybe even toddlers’ birthday parties.

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