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DIVA Magazine Review of BLISS ART Gig 25 Feb 2012

We couldn't fit all of DIVA Magazine's review onto press section so here it is in full! JULIA THOMPSON, DIVA MAGAZINE The intimate, candle-lit St Nicholas Church in Brighton feels a bit like the setting for a nativity play or a night of carol singing. It seems an odd choice then, for an evening of energetic jazz with charismatic lesbian jazz vocalist, Aneesa Chaudhry and her band, BLISS ART. But a brown-haired girl, in a polka-dot shirt, Mojca Monte, soon begins to spice things up on piano with a catchy little number, accompanied by some melodic flute playing from Jana Cadez Amali, in a unique way of introducing the band. Opening with "Once upon a time on the Island of Lesbos", the song cleverly weaves in a few amusing sexual innuendos, with more than one reference to "finger picking" and "musicians making sweet music together".

Aneesa has an edgy elegance about her as she strides onto the stage, combining an eastern-inspired dress with a chic cropped haircut. Her tuneful tones instantly make me think of elegant champagne bars, with her jazzier trombone-based numbers conjuring up images of brass bands in a wintry Central Park.

The singer gets her intimate audience clicking along to her cover of Peggy Lee's classic Fever where she demonstrates excellent vocal range and really explores the depths to which her voice can go. Aneesa proves herself to be a charming, bubbly character, making an effort to entertain her circle of fans at every opportunity. At one point revealing herself to be a "secret" Celine Dion fan, prompting a few reluctant grunts of agreement from her audience. Her moving rendition of Roberta Flak's The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, also covered by Celine Dion had, dare I say it, even more depth to it than Celine's version.

The girls close the first half of their set with a standout Performance of Etta James's I Just Want To Make Love To You, which sees a few fans giving in to the irresistible urge to get up and shake their thangs.

The second half sees us plunged into darkness, the ominous sounds of Jana's flute coming from the back of the church in an opera-style performance which begins with the singer knelt on the floor like a small child, slowly becoming illuminated as she sings in Urdu, which, she tells us is an important part of her Pakistani heritage.

Aneesa treats us to a few more flawlessly performed covers including Eva Cassidy's Songbird, Adele's Make Me Feel Your Love and a fitting tribute to Whitney Houston, a performance of My Love Is Your Love which more than does the late singer justice.

It's their own songs that really make the night, however. The vibrant It's Alright has the audience chanting back the lyrics. The Heart of Sappho's Bosom was inspired by their time in Lesbos, and Guappa Chica, which she tells us is about a beautiful woman, is the perfect closer to the evening. Although Aneesa's voice is a power in itself, the performance would not have been what it was without the incredibly talented flutist, Jana, who wrote the up-beat, You and the masterful pianist, Monti, who also wrote one of the songs, On the Edge. Monti's playing of the church's beautiful grand piano was flawless throughout the night.

After their set they dart around the room chatting to people, I manage to squeeze in a quick chat with Aneesa, in which she sums up their album On The Edge as "blissful, spicy and honest."

You can be sure to catch BLISS ART at one of the many women's festivals around the country this summer: they tell me that they want to raise their profile in the lesbian community and intend to play as many festivals as they can squeeze in. reverbnation.com BLISS ART are: Flute: Jana Cadez Amali Piano: Mojca Monte Vocals: Aneesa Chaudhry

REVIEW LINK: http://www.divamag.co.uk/category/arts-entertainment/music-review-aneesa-chaudhry.aspx

A Little bit about Jana

It all started for Jana when she was 6 years old. She wanted to play guitar but there was no room in the guitar class at her music school. The flute teacher invited her to the summer flute camp and since then her flute is her love. At the age of 8 she entered her first music competition in chamber music with a flute trio and they won 1st prize at a regional level and then again a few weeks later on a national level in Yugoslavia. She won several first prizes with the same trio and as a soloist in the years that followed. She continued her study at the High Music School in Ljubljana with the same professor and finished her degree at Music Academy, University of Ljubljana.

Jana loves to teach and in her 12 years of being a flute teacher many of her pupils have won prizes at competitions, taken active part in flute courses with well know flautists, continued their flute journey in High Music School and Music Academy and become members of different orcestras.

Her classical background has given her the skills to embrace different genres freely and put her personal stamp on it. She writes her own songs and currently teaches and performs with Amali Duo and Bliss Art.

'Playing flute and creating music is like food for me. It nurtures my body and soul, takes me places where I can experience pure ecstasy, express my feelings, reach and touch other people'.

A little about Bliss Art

A little bit about Mojca Monte...

Mojca first touched the keys of a piano when she was 3 years old, with her mum who is a musician and her twin brother. At the age of 4 she started to play the piano and a few years later her parents and teacher decided to take her to Prague where she studied piano. 'That was the most magical experience for me and still lives with me up to this day. A lot of laughter, playing the piano and most of all everything was fun'.

In her teenage years she competed as a piano soloist, played in piano duos and in chamber music gropups. She always won first prize. She says 'Being on the stage is amazing and uplifting, everything else disappears – it is just me, piano and the music'.

Mojca finished at the Music Academy University in Ljubljana and went on to play in several music competitions as a leading accompanist on International Voice Courses in Bled. She has worked as an accompanist for many students in regional, national and international competitions.

'I love music and my professional skills enabled me to make music with different instrumentalists, ballet dancers, opera singers - me being an accompanist and a piano teacher for over 15 years. My music repertoire is broad and I love being challenged by other musicians and different approaches'.

Currently Mojca writes her own songs, teaches and performe in Amali Duo and Bliss Art.