He did it his way | Sunday Observer

He did it his way

Kovindu de Saram and  Gananath
Kovindu de Saram and Gananath

Let’s start at the beginning the do-ray-me of music and present a bouquet to ‘Mrs Frank Sinatra’ who never fails to inject a delightful sense of humour if she decides to compere a show. And in this instance she did. I’m referring to Volume 4 of the Great American Songbook that was staged by the popular vocalist/saxophonist Gananath Dasanayake and his successful band En Route, at the British School Auditorium on October 20. “Mrs. Frank Sinatra” moved unobtrusively from the wings to the stage and set the pace for what followed as Gananath and En Route swung into a toe-tapping version of Stevie Wonder’s celebrated Sunshine of My Life complete with an easy and rhythmic sax solo.

From that point on, the audience who were not diehard fans of screaming guitars and thumping bass lines, lapped up the songs that were presented and enjoyed themselves like they never had.

What followed was a cohesive Day In and Day Out which belonged to Frank Sinatra and En Route spiced it up with a string bass solo by Shobi Perera and a quick drum solo by the young Charith Fernando. With Strangers In The Night and an up tempo beat of Irving Berlin’s Cheek to Cheek the evening took the audience to a sparkling arrangement by Shobi Perera of Jerome Kern’s Ole Man River, so much so that you could feel the thrust of the waves against the moving boat.

At this point I must commend Gananath for the selection of the backdrops to suit each of his songs. What’s more, say well done to the members of his band who were a rock behind him, attentive and strong in presentation.

With Dilip Seneviratne on piano, Shobi Perera plucking his beloved bass, Ramesh Nonis fluid as usual on guitar and Charith Fernando slick on drums, not forgetting young Madhava Perera on keyboards, embellishing the whole with his brass sounds.

Days of Wine and Roses was the prelude to the entrance of the medical college colleague Kovindu de Saram whose dialogue skits with Gananath never failed to draw laughter from the audience.

His, Memories are Made of This and then Sammy Davis Jnr’s Mr Bo Jangles which took me back to my radio broadcast years when we presenters played this song relentlessly. But the big surprise at this stage of the concert was to see the fantastic flautist Surekha Amerasinghe walk in on stage to join Gananath and En Route in the Benny Goodman favourite East of the Sun.

Surekha’s confident and careful articulation on the flute is hard to beat and she stayed to move into the bossa Girl From Ipenema giving the songs a new attraction that delighted the audience. What followed was The Song Is You with Ramesh Nonis flying off on a smooth guitar solo. But above all to see the calm, cool Maxi Rozairo move from the audience, shift the chair in front of him and walk on stage in no haste, was a joy.

And then to hear him sing after all these stay-at-home years was a greater joy.

The song Hello Dolly took on a new dressing. Maxi, your fans need to hear you more. The reunion of the three - Gananath, Kovindu and Bimal Wimalaratne with Something Stupid and Blue Moon tossed around was an act in itself.

Gananath steered the enjoyable concert to a close with other favourites from the American Song book – I Left My Heart in San Francisco, New York, New York and with his closure, before which he told the audience that he is taking a hiatus from the American Songbook series and stage and sang his thoughts that we all know as associated with Frank Sinatra and sang...

“My friend I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve travelled each and every highway
But more, much more than this I did it my way......”