The Norton Street Festa of Italian culture in Sydney this October 25 did not miss a Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr rat-pack. Short of the Festa being all pasta workshops, pizza, screaming bambini, screaming Mammas, groaning Pappas, beautiful people and cheesy French Fries, the Festa sported its own Rat-Pack in the form of Jeff Duff, Glenn Rhodes and Jess Ciampa on its mainstage from 1:00 p.m.
Well, at least the water-carrier was thanked by Duff for the vodka, and an appointment was made for whacky-backy with some happy bearded man in the crowd. All in good humour, of course, given Duff’s a totally clean machine. And that was really the extent of the rat-packery. The mood was merry, charitable and festive.
Some samples follow of the songs, complete with the festive sounds of the merry crowd.
Among the songs performed by the Duffo Trio were Walk on the Wildside, Walking in Memphis, Sorrow and Sailing ….
Sailing is the Chris Cross track. It’s not usually of a cool calibre. Specifically, if you were into Duffo when Chris Cross’ Sailing first came out in 1979, you’d’ve surely missed it, maybe even sneeringly. But if you’ve since expanded your tastes, thanks especially to Duff’s own evolving catalogue, it’s a cool beauty as performed by the Trio. Sure, Chris Cross’s own version is pretty nasal; he abbreviates and just about squanders every meaningful potential of his own song. In Duff’s hands, in His Master’s Voice, and the keys and beats of Rhodes and Ciampa, this song is now a musical experience of genuine and graceful optimism—primed with Duff’s elegant elocution, and the artful way he expresses melancholy as he offers hope. There is nothing so bombastic as Walt Whitman’s claim to “sing the body electric”. There is more of the angelic hope of Keats, ready to die in the wake of the nightingale’s sweet song. Optimism that soars while being deeply anchored. Sailing, indeed. Try it at the bus-stop (I did, in Blacktown, and never lived longer).
Love the one you’re with
The Trio of Duff, Rhodes and Ciampa was popular, driven to two encores, kindly over time. Amid these encores came the only really Italian track by the trio, given its association with "Dino Martino":
The song was recorded by Duff for the 2007 So Quiet album (available on iTunes), and Duff performed Sway on the popular nationwide Kerrie-Anne Show on Channel 9 TV:
Hard to get a shot let alone a vid at the Italian Festa without the various body parts of festival goers cavorting through every circumstance. So many of the shots from this occasion miss out on Duff’s feet. One tried hard to get a shot of what looked like a pair of particularly special Duff shoes; but whenever one got a frame on them, the Maestro’s mercurial spirit took him flying off left or right, and so on, over and over again.
For another experience of the Trio: Sun 29 Nov at St Leonards Park, Miller St, North Sydney, at the Spring into Jazz Festival from 3:00 pm. Read about Duff at last year’s Spring into Jazz here.