Swing and rhythm splendour | Sunday Observer

Swing and rhythm splendour

Well done doctors Gananath and Kovindu and actor Biman! - you created a new model of music presentation to prove that appreciation of music in a stage presentation does not depend on screaming guitars and bass thuds, like is often heard in today’s acknowledged style, synonymous with fast food and instant coffee, but that the music reached out to the thirsty audience who revelled in and lapped up the vibes not heard so often, or not at all, today.

The Great American Songbook Volume 2 staged at the British School Auditorium recently was a resounding success. What’s more, the threesome and the band En Route achieved the target in proceeds for The Music Project Charity. In fact, we understand they overstepped the target line which was a big plus for them. And all towards the purchase of musical instruments for the less privileged children of Jaffna, Mullaitivu and Kurunegala.

As for the concert per se the package had all the ingredients to make it the success it was. Biman Wimalaratne proved he was a thespian with plenty of power and punch.

His compering to open the show was embellished with humour-speech of an American in Sri Lanka - which put the audience into a happy start to the concert. It was an ideal start for Gananath Dasanayake to pick up the mood and swing into Too Marvellous for Words with a chorus from his sax and followed by nuggets from the Great American Songbook which had tight big-band-like-arrangements complete with pulsating phrasing from the rhythm section with the drums leading the pace. The audience automatically responded to the singers and the band, the energy flowed.

Gananath turned on the tap and captured the complete interest of the audience. The nuggets were I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Summer Wind, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, King of the Road - Kovindu de Seram subtly informing the audience that he was not going to sing Hole in the Bucket, since the music introduction bore similarity, and Dean Martin’s That’s Amore.

There were more like “On the Street Where you Live’, with a guitar solo by Ramesh Nonis, which reminds me that there were not many sax solos by Gananath Dasanayake which we missed. Hopefully, we’ll hear them next time! But, we need to congratulate him in singing the verse to the song I Get A Kick Out Of You. That had always been the modus operandi of Frank Sinatra – he never let a song be recorded without singing the verse, if it had a verse.

What were the other songs? Well there were Memories Are Made of This, sung by Kavindu and not to be left out was Biman Wimalaratne and his own concept of singing Blue Moon with Kovindu assisting him by holding the lyrics up for him from the hall. A toe tapping and stirring Leroy Brown was sung by Gananath as well as I Could Have Danced All Night and the finale New York, New York.

A feminine touch in the form of Shermain Willis and the outspoken lyrics of the song Lady is A Tramp sung as a duet with Gananath was an enjoyable surprise and enjoyable were the many little skits enacted by Biman and Kovindu in between songs whether it be in silent mode or talking mode.

I cannot pass on without commending Gananath for the inclusion of Dilip Seneviratne’s playing of Amazing Grace on the piano extending En Route’s sympathy to the many lives that were lost to the floods and to those who were rendered homeless.

Finally, Gananath and En Route thank you for a tight package concept that lasted a little more than an hour, no interval, and moved swiftly from beginning to end.