The Beat Goes On 'Songs For Swinging Hipsters' at Pizza Express Dean Street

Sarah Moule (left) and Trudy Kerr at Pizza Express Dean Street
Photo courtesy of the artists

The Beat Goes On – 'Songs For Swinging Hipsters'
Pizza Express Dean Street. 10 February 2018. Review by Brian Blain)

The Beat Goes On is the neat title of what may well turn out to be a 'concept album' following a show in last year's London Jazz Festival and last Saturday at the Pizza Express in Dean Street by vocalists Sarah Moule and Trudy Kerr with pianist Simon Wallace and bassist Geoff Gascoyne. The 'beat' here however is inspired by the Beat writers and poets like Kerouac and Ginsberg who were blown away by the jazz music of the period and whose mood was later picked up by the classic songwriter Fran Landesman whose songs are much loved by Moule and Wallace, with whom she co wrote in later life.

Bob Dorough's self deprecatoty I'm Hip coming up second in the opening set was maybe just a little too hip and tricky before the artists had had a chance to settle into a more comfortable groove, but Sarah's grip on A New York Minute, an old Landesman favourite that crops up frequently in her repertoire, settled everyone down and from then on everything was pure bliss. A change of mood with one of the most beautiful and melancholy songs in the 20th-century canon, Landesman and Tommy Wolf's Ballad Of the Sad Young Men, with Moule's beautiful rich timbre delivering the song's bittersweet feeling to perfection, lifted the evening to a level from which it never dropped. The reading of Joni Mitchell's lyric to Mingus's Goodbye Pork Pie Hat was another standout. Pushed by Trudy's hard-swinging delivery of her own vocalese lyric on Coltrane's Moment's Notice, just for once I missed a drummer to create that extra edge of excitement.

Later, songs by Lennon and Waits showed just how far the ripples of the Beats lapped on, but it was Dylan's Homesick Subterranean Blues that, from Simon Wallace's stomping down-home piano intro, carried the biggest jazz charge of the later material. Even so, when these four terrific musicians rocked out on that old Annie Ross classic, Doodlin', with Sarah and Trudy's faces wreathed in smiles, having such a great time I was reminded what this show was really about; echoes of the most prolific decades in the history of the music.


Sarah Moule (left) and Trudy Kerr at Pizza Express Dean Street
Photo courtesy of the artists

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