Review: The Puppini Sisters

Think of swing jazz and the image of suave men in zoot suits doing the Charleston with women twirling in full skirts comes to mind, along with immaculately coiffed hair that never appears to succumb to the vigour of dance. It’s a ball passed from Frank Sinatra to John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie and many more greats, down to the smooth tunes of Michael Bublé and Jamie Cullum we know today.

But there are certainly no men in sight when it comes to The Puppini Sisters. Hailing from London, these women form a Gold Disc award-winning jazz vocal harmony trio, revitalizing the notion of female jazz artistes in the likeness of The Andrews Sisters.


Over the past decade, they have been touted as the vanguard of the burlesque revival, which has little to do with Dita von Teese’s shimmying tassels atop a giant martini glass. Instead, The Puppini Sisters are merging the classicisms of swing jazz music into a genre more palatable for the modern music listener. By blending boogie-woogie, scat singing, jazz strains and pop, the new-fangled genre of swing pop was fashioned in their debut album Betcha Bottom Dollar (2006), and evolved to the fourth and latest Hollywood (2011).

On Dec 5, The Puppini Sisters graced Singapore in peep-toed pumps, performing at the Esplanade Concert Hall as part of the Voices – A Festival of Song line-up.


The trio comprising Marcella Puppini, Kate Mullins and Emma Smith drew a crowd for their evening show, with more desperate fans still clamoring to purchase tickets before the 7:30 p.m. show time.

It soon became apparent why acclaimed VIPs such as Cyndi Lauper and Prince Charles extoll the trio, their collective harmonies melding into a honeyed blend.

Other original compositions and Christmas songs were included in the set, to spread a little festive cheer among the audience, who were clapping to the rhythm. “Jingle Bells” received a jaunty, scat-infused spin, while other crowd favourites like “Santa Baby” and “All I Want For Christmas” amassed uncontrollable feet-tapping.


Definitely out to please the crowd, The Puppini Sisters covered familiar jazz hits like “Sway”, “Fever”, “Java Jive” and more, all while performing synchronised boogie-woogie moves. Dispel the High School Musical-esque jazz hands, because the Sisters made it look fabulous.

Through the 90-minute show, members took turns onstage to show their individual talents.


“We love to sing, and one of our favourite things to sing about is…ourselves of course!” joked frontwoman Marcella Puppini, who then belted out her upcoming solo single, while Kate Mullins played the keyboard. Puppini and Mullins also impressed with their command of offbeat instruments, namely the piano accordion and melodica. Emma Smith singing under a lone spotlight accompanied by the double bass during the second half was enough to incite chills.

Admittedly, this writer had mediocre knowledge of jazz prior to watching this concert, though The Puppini Sisters’ show provided a much welcome eye opener into the doo-wopping world of this soulful genre. In fact, this writer boogied and tapped her way home after the most wonderful and delightful concert.


For the latest news on The Puppini Sisters, check out their Facebook page here.

Photo Courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.