Swing into Saturday night with Natalie Claire Jazz Band in Wollongong

Jazz singer Natalie Claire and her band will be performing at Wollongong’s Music Lounge for the first time this Saturday, February 24 with a program that honours the classics by Frank Sinatra and legendary divas such as Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Nina Simone.

Natalie Claire said the aim is to create a comfortable, intimate vibe.

“Just a nice, warm, fun time. With a tiny bit of classy, just a little bit fancy,” she said.

The band often perform in Sydney but Natalie – who is a member of Towradgi Surf Club and has a beloved holiday house at Lake Conjola – has a special place in her heart for the Illawarra. 

“I’d much rather drive down to Wollongong for a night out or to go to dinner than take on the hustle and bustle of the city,” she said.

L to R: Miroslaw Galczynski, Natalie Claire, Nicholas Powning, Steve Ley. Photo supplied

Natalie has been a jazz singer for more than a decade and has performed with pianist Miroslaw Galczynski and bass player Nicholas Powning for about 15 years. With drummer Steve Ley, the band are renowned for their improvisation skills and on-stage banter.

“Miroslaw used to teach at the University of Wollongong, and he’s an amazing improviser. So is Nick, and Steve likes a good drum solo. I’ll do a bit of scatting… we have lots of fun.”

The Natalie Claire Jazz Band has performed at iconic Sydney jazz spots such as Foundry 616 Ultimo, Lazy Bones at Marrickville and The Harold. They’ve played at food and wine festivals, corporate events and weddings. And to wrap up each year, they put on a New Year’s Eve show at Sydney’s Shangri-La Hotel. 

As well as embracing a mix of jazz standards and a range of genres, including swing, ballads, Latin, and Bossa Nova, Natalie enjoys enriching her repertoire by incorporating different languages, such as Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, into her performances. Audiences can expect a diverse cultural mix at Saturday’s show.

“No two gigs are the same. It happens in the moment, with live music – especially if it’s jazz. We all feed off each other,” she said.

“There’s a lot of improvising – we might feed off the room. If people look like they want to dance, we can play songs that are more up-tempo, or more laid back.”

At some shows, the band enjoys performing modern hits with a vintage twist, but they always come back to the classics.

“It’s all the well-known songs that people would know,” Natalie said.

“We want them [the audience] to be relaxed and feel like they can socialise and talk in the background. If they feel like they want to get up and dance to some of the Latin numbers, they can do that.”

There’s always something special about live jazz. 

“It just feeds the soul.” 

The Natalie Claire Jazz Band will perform at The Music Lounge on Saturday, February 24. Tickets $20-$35, bookings via Merrigong Theatre Co’s website.

L to R: Steve Ley, Nicholas Powning, Natalie Claire, Miroslaw Galczynski. Photo supplied