Review : Vocal Summit - Anjali Perin/ Nia Lynn/ Trudy Kerr

Barry Green, Gareth Lockrane, Anjali Perin, Jim Hart, Dave Whitford
Vocal Summit at Spice of Life
Photo credit: Benjamin Amure

Anjali Perin/ Nia Lynn/ Trudy Kerr
(The Spice of Life Vocal Summit. Part of LJF11. 16th November 2011. Review by Jeanie Barton.)

This year’s ensemble was introduced by the ever popular and humble, pianist and accompanist Barry Green; Dave Whitford on double bass, Jim Hart on drums and Gareth Lockrane on flutes. Their opening instrumental number, I Want To Be Happy, set off at breakneck speed, Gareth’s solo licked around the corner of every change with blinding accuracy, the rhythm section relishing the syncopation and driving the number forward through every chorus, whipped the room into a frenzy.

Once we were all well and truly happy and making noises to such effect, Anjali Perrin swung into action. Her ever relaxed and charming demeanour enhanced the club feel that is always the essence of the Spice “Nice to see you to see you nice!” She started with Weaver of Dreams, pulling the phrases too and fro with gutsy groove and scatting sky scraper shapes with her epic range. Gareth replied with a solo in which he sang parallel to his flute, a melody so complex and fast that I was astounded. Anjali continued with a vocalise she penned to bassist Eddie Gomez’s solo on a Bill Evan’s recording of You Must Believe in Spring. Her sensitive, evocative words and delivery made us melancholy and Barry’s skeletal harmonies in the upper register added further to the fragile emotion.

Nia Lynn took to the stage next, a vision in aqua and with a vocal quality that put me in mind of water gently ebbing and flowing. A re-harmonisation of Who Can I Turn To enabled her to sing delicate lines over spacious modal shapes; after her solo she even held her nose and made a diver’s drowning signal to Gareth as he took over! For all the gentle reserved ness of her voice this young Welsh lady proved subsequently that she has some Bassey belt in her, during a funky interpretation of Tom Waits' Swordfishtrombone. Jim Hart’s creative melodious accompaniment sounded more like notes than rhythm, highlighting how being a multi-instrumentalist (vibes and piano) adds shapes to a drummer’s lines that a percussionist with a lesser knowledge of harmony and arrangement could not hope to match. He would make an able successor to my own mentor and pioneer of bebop in the UK, drummer and vibraphonist Laurie Morgan.

Trudy Kerr was last to perform; she opened with a swinging version of Born to be Blue, followed by a personal tribute to the recently departed, sadly missed pianist and innovator Michael Garrick with whom she recorded the album Like Minds in 2009. The first track was a reworking of Don't Get Around Much Any More as a largely colla voce piano voice duo, Barry again stepped up to give his interpretation of Garrick’s angular accompaniment – the room was united in grief. For the second chorus the ensemble joined in to create a warm bossa, shifting the mood to one of thanks, Trudy kept her vocal simple and performed the story of the song with intense feeling. She left us on a high with The Rhythm of Life, the ever modulating chart carried forward with sound conviction by Dave Whitford on bass.

The show had over-run and so the packed club was asked to quickly disperse – grateful thanks were given to our host Paul Pace. I look forward to returning on Saturday!

spicejazz.co.uk / londonjazzfestival.org.uk

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