NOGA RITTER AT THE BOTANICAL GARDENS
The Sounds Green series of open-air concerts has revolutionized the University Botanical Gardens.
Founded as a serious scientific focus for flora and fauna the world over – Charles Darwin himself was a contributor – the ever-adventurous Cambridge Music Festival turns – for a couple of hours only - a serious centre of learning into the focus for a high-end family rave up – without seemingly crushing a blade of the beautifully cultivated grass.
The massive outline of the Wellingtonian firs grown here since their ‘discovery’ in the early nineteenth century alongside majestic Californian Redwood giants, tower over the evening gardens as literally thousands of people - families love it - file into the carefully manicured space. Which is where Noga Ritter and her talented band performed at the penultimate gig in front of a relaxed audience,
Noga Ritter is a vibrant charismatic performer. Her music is unusual,, jazz yes, but overlaid with an international funk rhythm she tells us she found in Brazil and Senegal. Whatever the mélange, the result is a powerful sound. She is Israeli and sings unusually in Hebrew but frankly such is her charisma and charm she could use any language and still pack a punch.
The material is inventive. The rhythms were super- dance worthy and translated well to a closer group of delighted devotees (I was one) that ranged from rapt four year olds to what looked like professional Brazilian dancers. Even Noga herself was impelled to leave her performance area and samba with one young man in a one-piece cutaway black suit who had the grace and stamina of Rudolph Nureyev combined with Fred Astaire – I had just a couple of minutes Latin American jive with this amazing chap and felt as if I’d been for a flash trip to Buenos Aires. Organizers told me Noga refused to have any roped off area, her magnetism simply drew the dancers towards her and she looked as if she loved every minute of her wildly energetic performance.
The last Sounds Green is next Wednesday at 6 15 31 July, - jazz blues and bossa nova from singer-pianist Ruth Applin with the Josh Kemp Quartet -yes, he is son of the legendary Martin Kemp
Preview them yourself on Spotify- their music is superb.
The concert( brief as it always starts on time, come early) will be a kind of posthumous party as the Festival is now officially over. But the memory of those record-breaking temperatures and delightfully crowded picnickers will stay on through the months to come. Well done Cambridge Summer Music for a daring venture pulled off with tight organization and a light touch .