Monday, September 9, 2013

Ciaran Fox and Serik Iskakov jazz and swing at The Gramercy DIFC

We have few jazz/swing vocalists here in Dubai, and few of those are male, so it's a treat to see one perform live. Among their ranks, Irish vocalist Ciaran Fox stands out for doing much justice to the genres. I had seen him perform once as part of The Fridge's Kalubela ensemble show, and the next time at a bustling "men's night" last season, so I scheduled an evening with a friend at The Gramercy in the DIFC to check out his regular Monday night gig in relative peace.

The Gramercy, with its wood screens, soft lighting, high ceiling and decoratively oxidized mirrors, is an appropriate venue for this kind of music. The stage area was also well-placed, and lit better that at some of the other venues I've been. I've actually been here a few times before, mainly for stand-up comedy.

Accompanied by prolific saxophone player Serik Iskakov, Fox reinterpreted various popular songs on request, throwing in some old standards of jazz, swing and blues. This gentleman has clearly trained his voice for his chosen genres, most noticeably the ability to hold a prolonged note. When he asked for more requests, I suggested "anything from Kalubela", and he obliged with Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You". Iskakov took on another one of my requests - for Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" - as a sax solo. And once he figured out that I was there for some old school, Fox belted a series of delightful jazz hits my way.

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