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Osman heats up Drink!

Published: 
Saturday, December 4, 2010
From left, Janine Xavier, Ruth Osman, James Fenton, and Marva Newton entertain at Drink! Wine Bar on Rosalino Street in Woodbrook.

Jazz singer Ruth Osman put down a sweet and soulful performance on November 25. While outside was rainy and cold, inside Drink! Wine Bar in Woodbrook, candles glowed, music flowed, and Osman’s voice kept her audience warm. Backed by musicians Marva Newton on guitar, James Fenton on congas, and Janine Xavier on violin, Osman started things off with her composition, You, a love song. She followed with The Sea, before covering Bob Marley’s Redemption Song. She said they had given the arrangement a “Soweto vibe,” and the familiar melody did indeed have a South African flavour. Newton and Xavier entertained with a conversation between their two instruments, with Fenton delivering intricate rhythms.

The musicians continued their interplay throughout the night, with Osman commenting, “They surprise me all the time, in beautiful ways.” Perfectly selected for the weather, Rain came next, a song in which Osman performs a poem by Mahadai Das, and then Andre Tanker’s Calypso Soul Food. The audience responded to the richness of her voice and her characteristic spunk, keeping time with their hands.
After a break, the band returned for the second set, and turned up the heat. Osman started off on flute on her evocative composition, The Dark. After laying the melodic foundation, she added stark verse, exploring the sometimes un-pretty under-side of relationships—but ending hopefully: “...someone must mourn the death of a star, and sing another into being.”

Osman, whose songs expressing love for God have made her at home in several gospel shows, continued to showcase her depth as an artist in the second set. In a sophisticated-looking strapless mini-dress, she showed her sultry side with Marley’s Turn Your Lights Down Low, the jazz classic (You Give Me) Fever, and what she said was a recent addition to their set, the sexy, groovy, New Blues. Things took a festive turn with Nap Hepburn’s Listen Mama, performed as a finale. But the audience demanded an encore and received David Rudder’s Calypso Music. They showed their gratitude by singing and clapping along. At the end of the set, Drink! proprietor Dale Ramirez said the Candlelight Series would continue weekly on Thursday nights.

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