Review: The Ray Mann Three @ Tonic Lounge 16.10.05 ~ Sydney

Lots of spunk with a truly fresh spirit… have the ability to propel you into a higher sphere allowing your soul and intellect to waltz into the lofty clouds of the unique…

On a small street in a petite venue in a big town is Tonic Lounge Bar, a bar that could be mistaken for a jazz den in the old Jewish quarter of Paris. The wall ‘tonic’ is a soft impressionist painting of Frida Kahlo, the decor ‘tonic’ is French bourgeois meets provincial kitsch, and the beverage ‘tonic’ is a raspberry and lychee martini… mmmm, the barman is an expert.

The Ray Mann Three – who are urban, neo-soul, a dash of funk, lots of spunk with a truly fresh spirit… have the ability to propel you into a higher sphere allowing your soul and intellect to waltz into the lofty clouds of the unique. Slotting you into a groove on a not-too-polished urban wooden floor, these songs resonate in your body and soul and are expressed with your feet… hello Ray Mann Three.

[The] Ray Mann Three combined originals and covers and executed them with such distinctiveness that it seemed to me they extrapolated more spunk than the originals (traditionalists please don’t slap me), especially their version of “The Seed” by The Roots. Other covers came from D’angelo and Jill Scott. Their rendition of “Sign Your Name” by Terence Trent D’Arby had the crowd curving their hips and humming along, while their original, “Morena”, felt like a cross between Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder.

Ray, the lead guitar and singer has a vocal range envious of any of the best in soul. Matt Hunter on bass and vocals kept his funky finger working and Bart Denaro, drums and vocals, was good enough to eat. (Ray and Bart are members of Kid Confucius). The trio were not too polished, not too tight, but a model of loose, energetic cinnamon-spice.

If you want to hear how soul has evolved, see these guys play. Better still, see them at Tonic because it’s gotta be one of the best places I’ve been to in a long time.

By Graziella Obeid
Source: Drum Media, Sydney, 18.10.05

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