Impressive and entertaining | Sunday Observer

Impressive and entertaining

Dominic  Fernando & Devashri  de Silva
Dominic Fernando & Devashri de Silva

Like the blurbs went, it was a night of song and holiday cheer with saxophonist/vocalist Gananath Dasanayake at the helm. No one in the audience could have anticipated what the package would contain and true enough it contained suprises – the same feeling you get when opening up your Christmas gifts! All the participants threw themselves into the spirit of the concert and undoubtedly the large audience went home carrying with them memories that will last them until another year moves in.

The opening of the concert was a ride on humourous roller skates. “Mrs Frank Sinatra” as she dubs herself always was in fine form as compere. She has a natural flair, an ideal voice and manner for compering (which I’ve mentioned before and why doesn’t she do it more often) and along with her co-host Kovindu de Seram the humour and theatrical reactions moved with so much ease and timing which included instructions to the audience – no food, no drinks, no cell phone talking and recodings. Well done ‘Mrs Frank Sinatra’ it was an item in itself and well received by the applauding audience.

The spotlight was then turned on the man himself. Dr. Gananath Dasanayake – vocalist and saxophonist, in concert at the Lionel Wendt on December 20. “You came on the wrong day” was his opening lines to the audience and backed by his quartet moved into Man Without Love from the books of Englebert Humperdinck. True the concert was billed as a concert of Christmas and holiday cheer but Gananath always gives a different touch to his presentations. Tom Jones’ Help Yourself was next followed by Neil Diamond’s Song Sung Blue with sax solos. Just when the audience were wondering will there by Christmas songs, bang came in Mel Torme’s. Christmas Song, the well known Let It Snow and the perennial Santa Claus Is Coming To Town with dramatic saxophone solos thus giving the song a different approach aided by his expressive quartet comprising Ramesh Nonis with his plectrist wizardry on guitar, Maxwell Pietersz strumming his accoustic bass, Charith Fernando slick on drums and Madhawa Perera dependable on keyboards.To strike a difference note Gananath moved into the world of Abba, invited the audience to clap to the rhythm and went into Thank you For the Music. The audience rallied round eagerly, which proved that Gananath as an artiste relies on ‘just-thought-of-it’ spontancity ideas which has never let him down but instead pulled the vibes closer to his fans.

Talking of fans there were many that day – old, middle aged and young relishing every note of their idol – his voice and his sax.Unbelievable but it is true. I haven’t heard the wind band of S.Thomas’ College for quite some time and their appearance that evening was a pleasant surprise. The band comprised 23 young instrumentalists – trumpeters, saxophonists, clarinetists, flautists and a drummer, with a clarinetist leading the band. They launched into Christmas melodies including Jingle Bell Rock and left the audience with the thirst for more. I’m happy that S.Thomas’ College is training wind instrumentalists. Our music scene needs them more than the overflow of guitarists. The spotlight was turned on again to an entertaining young quartet – 3 quitars, keyboardists and singer who swung through Mary’s Boy Child and Santa Claus is Coming To Town.

Another surprise from the stocking was young Dominic Fernando on guitar soloing around the Christmas Tree and joined by Devashri de Silva for some Jingle Bell Rock and with Gananath before, Devashri moved over to sing the plaintive Mary Did You Know?. It was good to see and hear Devashri – she should grace our stages more often.

It was time once again for Gananath to make his finale appearance and he did so in a Frank Sinatra mode. You Make MeFeel So Nice, Where or When, I’ll Be Home for Christmas sung with the verse, White Christmas with a delightful sax solo, Quando the Michael Buble version with the rhythm section delving into scintillating solos. Gananath brought the evening’s performance to a close with O Holy Night giving the carol the right mood and thought. Ramesh Nonis on guitar started it off, set the mood and Gananath extended it with his soul-stirring singing, which moved the audience into a hush, before they burst into a thunderous applause.Everyone involved in the performance took the stage to sing Feliz Navidad, spread their good wishes and acknowledging the standing oration from the audience and let them carry home memories of another Christmas evening. In a spoolback Gananath once said ‘I really wanted to see Christmas as a jazzy affair and this is my dream come true....’

And from us to all the artistes, here I’m quoting some lines from Mel Torme’...

“So I’m offering this simple phrase

To kids from one to ninety-two

Although its been said many times, many ways

Merry Christmas To You....”

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