The Great American Song Book closes with a bang

An evening of jazz

Colombo’s popular jazz band En Route, led by saxophonist/vocalist Gananath Dasanayaka, presented a series of concerts themed the “Great American Song Book”. These were a couple of shows dedicated to honour jazz music and the American hits from the golden era of jazz. The fourth and final volume of this series was held last Saturday, 20 October at the British School Auditorium.

This was a glamorous evening of good music, love, and laughter. The auditorium was filled with jazz lovers and fans eager to revisit the “Rat Pack” days.

The event started at 8 p.m. and was a wonderful 90 minutes of jazz, jazz, and jazz. The band members consisted of the saxophonist/vocalist Gananath Dasanayaka, Shobi Perera on bass, with the renowned Dilip Seneviratne on piano, Ramesh Nonis on guitar, and Charith Fernando on drums.

The audience was greeted with classics like Ervin Berling’s Cheek to Cheek, Jerome Kern’s “Old Man River” (done in the first volume), Tony Bennett’s signature song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” and “New York”, Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”, and Johnny Mercer’s 1939 standard “Day In Day Out”.

Sinatra’s “My Kind of Town” and “Something Stupid” performed as a duet between Kovindu de Saram and Gananath were the highlights of the evening.

Spice it up

In order to add some spice to the regular “stew”, Gananath invited a few guests to perform and these performances were equally wonderful and entertaining. Kovindu de Saram’s performance of Sammy Davis’ “Mr. Bo Jangles” was one of them.

Another superb guest performance was by the fabulous flautist Sureka Amerasinghe. She joined in for an amazing cover of Antonio Carlos Jobin’s hit “The Girl from Ipanema” and a few other classics from the Great American Song Book.

On percussion for these was the highly talented Lelum Rathnayake, who added a new flair to the music of En Route.
Next up was the guest performance by the esteemed vocalist Maxi Rosairo (Gananath’s coach). He performed a captivating duet with Gananath that left the crowd in tears of joy.

Overjoyed and a little sad

The show finished with a bang and the audience was gushing with happiness. We spoke to some of the loving fans in the audience and here’s what they said:

Naomi De Silva
“We have been there from the first volume and it has been absolutely entertaining from the first one.”

Nelusha Chamindi
“I loved it. It was very entertaining and I had a wonderful time.”

Dilky Fernando
“I absolutely enjoyed the guest performances as well. It was a great show.”

Shadun Barthiban
“I am a huge fan of jazz music, so I loved it. We have been coming for all of the ‘Great American Song Book’ performances and each one was very good.”

Rajaes Nonis
“It was a fantastic show. It is different from all of the other concerts we get these days. I am a huge fan of jazz and En Route. My son is the lead guitarist and I think he did great tonight and so did Gananath and the others.”

“It was a great show. I am kind of sad that the Great American Song Book is coming to an end. We really enjoyed their shows.”

Manu and Manindri
“We love Jazz and we love the Great American Song Book performances. It was an epic show.”

“We are planning to take a new direction”

Speaking to Gananath after the show, we found out that they have plans to make an album in the future and that they are trying to explore new things.
“We are trying to take a break from this kind of music at least for a while. We are trying to explore other genres of music like modern jazz and even 90s pop. We like to play 90s music with these kinds of arrangements and see what the response will be.”
He added: “There are certain young singers who I would like to collaborate with. So at least there will be some preservation of jazz music in this country.”

By Pujanee Galappaththi

Photos: Pradeep Dambarage