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A wonderful evening for the first Jazznights gig of 2012 at The Cherry Tree, Belchamp St Paul in Essex for the great USA diva Sandi Russell. A full house (make sure you book for future gigs) thoroughly enjoyed the jazz as well as the food and liquid refreshment at The Cherry Tree.
As a native New Yorker, Sandi Russell has sung in many of Manhattan’s most prestigious clubs: Greene Street, Grand Finale, Reno Sweeney, The Ballroom, Sweet Rhythm and Mikell’s. She has worked with jazz luminaries such as Lionel Hampton, Roy Eldridge, Ellis Larkins, Beaver Harris, Earl May, Don Pullen and Jean Toussaint. In London, Sandi Russell regularly performs with Dave Newton, Steve Brown and Andy Clyndert at Pizza Express and Pizza on the Park; she has also appeared at Ronnie Scott’s, the Riverside Studios, the Purcell Room and the Voice Box on the South Bank. Last night she sang with the Jazznights Roger Odell Trio to rapturous applause.
The band were:
Roger Odell – Drums
Roger was one of the founder members and drummer with the jazz-funk group Shakatak and the forerunner band Tracks. Roger has toured internationally and recorded numerous CDs, which he continues to do on a regular basis to this day. Apart from a great power drummer he is also a prestigious arranger.
Bernie Hodgkins – 5 String Double Bass Inspired by an uncle, who played and recorded with Django Reinhart and Stephane Grappelli in the legendary Quintet de Hot Club of France, Bernie grew up in a Jazz-oriented family. Their influence led him to become a respected bass player behind such people as Matt Munroe, Dickie Valentine and Dennis Lotus, in the early stages of his career. Bernie is particularly acknowledged as being one of the few players to bring an authentic, driving jazz feel to both the double bass and the bass-guitar, and for his fluent and creative soloing. Tonight Bernie was playing his his 5 string double bass.
Simon Brown – Piano
A highly respected and popular jazz pianist who is equally known for his arranging skills. He is always in demand to play many gigs with other bands when he is not
Larraine Odell – Vocals
Beginning her professional singing career with the group CMU with whom she recorded two albums, Larraine performed at numerous venues throughout the UK and Europe, including the Purcell Room, RFH, Boxford Fleece & Ronnie Scott’s.Larraine possesses a unique smouldering tonal quality and a subtle jazz phrasing style that has elicited great praise from two of her own vocal mentors, Mark Murphy and Sheila Jordan. “A sensitive singer who exudes a fine-honed jazz sensibility with every phrase”
Larraine Odell, Jazznights resident songbird opened the first set of the evening singing:
1. You Stepped Out of a Dream from 1940 – Music by Nacio Herb Brown and Lyrics from Gus Kahn. This was first introduced in the film Ziegfried Girl – one of the biggest film hits of 1941. Larraine gave a very swinging interpretation.
2. Cole Porter’s 1936 I’ve Got You Under My Skin followed. This quite an unusual song as it has no verse. It became a signature song for Frank Sinatra and, in 1956 was recorded by Peggy Lee on her famous Black Coffee album. Larraine’s version had a lovely slow tempo with an excellent introduction from the drums of Roger Odell playing an African based rhythm with the mallets. Roger also arranged the music – as he did with all Larraine’s songs.
3. The Lamp Is Low (1939) is a song based on Ravel’s Pavanne (Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess) written for solo piano by the French composer Maurice Ravel in 1899 when he was studying composition at the Conservatoire de Paris). Consequently the credits include music by Peter De Rose, Maurice Joseph Ravel and Bert A Shefter with lyrics from Mitchell Parish. Larraine sang this notable version at a medium tempo.
4. The1955 Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most (Music by Thomas J Wolf Jr and Lyrics by Frances Landesman came next. This song was Frances’s exploration of T. S. Eliot’s "April is the cruellest month…" This was sung beautifully and sensitively by Larraine – another great arrangement by Roger Odell.
5. Cole Porter’s 1938 Get Out Of Town ended Larraine’s superb set with a great up- tempo finale.
Sandi Russell’s first set included:with a very different version of
6. A very different version of the 1959 My Favourite Things by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. This was a very jazzy and unusual version which introduced Sandi’s excellent scat singing ability which went down a storm!
7. Day Dream (1941) with music by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn and lyrics from John Latouche which was so contrasting as it was sung at a really slow tempo.
8. Devil May Care – (Words and music by Bob Dorough and Terrell P Kirk JR).another unique Sandi Russell version of this well known Jazz standard
9. Ray Noble’s 1934 The Very Thought Of You (vocalist Al Bowlly first introduced this tune in 1934) was a sang as a beautiful ballad by Sandi
10. Abbey Lincoln’s Throw It away. A very passionate interpretation of a lovely song which ended Sandi’s excellent first set.
Following the interval and the raffle ( 3 jazz CD’s and a bottle of wine) we had the traditional sitting in spot which is open to all musicians who have an opportunity to play with the Jazznights Trio. Tonight we had no less than three of our local artistes:
11. Terry Reed played a great medium to up-tempo version of George Shearing’s Lullaby Of Birdland on the piano.
12. The very popular Geoff Harriman on harmonica playing a very fine version of the 1954 Erroll Garner number Misty
13. Thirdly We had that that superb tenor saxophonist Kevin Flanagan playing two numbers:
Isham Jones’s 1936 There Is No Greater Love played at an up-tempo version with power drumming from Roger Odell. The two work so well together as they are both regular members of Rebop.
14. Another standard followed with Alone Together . Kevin Flanagan can be seen again at Jazznights when Rebop feature on the 19th February at Jazznights.
Sandi Russell’s last set contained the following numbers:
15. Forget Him by Valerie Brown with a great intro from Roger with his mallets introduced Sandi followed by the rest of the band at a medium tempo.
16. A Hoagy Carmichael song Leave Me There at a slow tempo
17.Up-Tempo number by Thelonius Monk featuring Sand’s scat singing.
18.A very gentle and beautiful version of Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington’s 1937 The Nearness of You showing the great versatility and mastery of Sand’s voice.
19, A great vocal version of Miles’ Davis’s All Blues at a medium tempo. All Blues and it certainly was!
20. There could not have a been a greater and fitting finale to Sandi’s evening at Jazznights than an up-tempo vocal version of Ellington’s Take The A Train
A Quote: "Miss Russell gave an exuberant, even astonishing display of vocal pyrotechnics” We cannot add any greater accolad3e. A wonderful evening.
The next Jazznights session is on Sunday 22nd Jan with JOHN ETHERIDGE (guitar). John Etheridge rightly enjoys a glowing reputation throughout the jazz world and beyond and has been described by Pat Metheny as, "One of the best guitarists in the world". He is a prodigiously gifted and creative player whose approach to music can only be described as ‘eclectic’. Stephane Grappelli to Soft Machine!!
For further details and future gigs go to http://www.jazz-nights.com