On the first of many windy, chilly Saturday nights in Montreal, Upstairs Jazz lounge was the perfect place to be. The dim lighting and cozy space always make for an intimate show. I’m a sucker for female jazz vocalists, and so I was really psyched to see Ranee Lee. Unfortunately for me, the first show was completely sold out by 7pm. Disappointed but determined, I put myself on the list for the 10 o’clock and killed some time drinking 3 or 4 cups of hot tea up the street. By 9:45, I was back for some jazz and seated front row, centre. The tables were so tightly squeezed together that I actually had to climb onto the little stage to get into my chair. Ms. Lee came on just after 10 dressed to the nines, with her ears bejewelled and her short hair beautifully set in big curls. She had on the coolest black swede stiletto heels that she couldn’t help showing off to the audience. By the end of the show she ditched them with no shame. “These shoes are beautiful, but they HURT.” She looked like a movie star in the 1960s, which wasn’t too far off as she has been singing for 35 years in Montreal. Her voice was warm and deep, flowing gracefully from bossa nova to more soulful tunes. I actually got chills when she sang a cover of She’s Come Undone by The Guess Who. Accompanied by some fierce piano, bass, drums and guitar, she was at times a bit overpowered by their intensity. Nevertheless, her stage presence really drew me in. I’ll definitely see her again when I have the chance.
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