Thursday, 26 March 2015

Pure mellifluousness

On Tuesday Madam Arcati and I were thrilled to get tickets for a very special event indeed – an intimate evening of jazz and standards titled It Might As Well Be Spring, courtesy of two of the top performers in their genre, Miss Claire Martin OBE and Mr Joe Stilgoe (son of the legendary Sir Richard, telly favourite in the 1970s and co-writer of Phantom of the Opera with Lord Lloyd-Webber) – in the luxuriant surroundings of the fantabulosa “Crazy Coqs” cocktail lounge at Brasserie Zedel
The syncopated excellence of Claire Martin and Joe Stilgoe has to be seen (and heard) to be believed. Martin, one of our finest jazz divas, defines insouciance as she controls her perfect timbre, her voice swooping like a seabird from the most glorious moment of an occasional mezzo trills, down to a luxuriously resonant contralto. Her pitch is perfect and her timing pinpoint - there is truly nothing more a cabaret singer could offer.

And then there's Stilgoe. With a reverential impertinence that reminds one of Peter Shaffer’s young Amadeus, eschewing sheet music and much like a Transformer straight out of the recent movie franchise, he becomes one with his piano. Stilgoe really is that good.
- Jonathan Baz
I have always adored Miss Martin’s talents – we have on CD When Lights Are Low, a collection of excellent tunes from her lengthy musical partnership with the late, great Sir Richard Rodney Bennett – and she is highly regarded on the “jazz scene”, presenting as she does BBC Radio 3’s flagship Jazz Line-Up show.

Her voice was described on the Musical Theatre Review site thus: ”[Claire] is able to glide effortlessly from swinging a number to caressing it and, at times, she drops from a tone of pure mellifluousness to a timbre that is evocative of a gin and cigarettes habitué.” As we were to discover, she is simply a breath-taking vocal stylist, tackling everything from Judy Garland (Arlen’s Get Happy) to Lena Horne (on Michel Legrand’s Watch What Happens), with a little bit of everything else in between...

...including this wonderfully sassy (and, we thought, somewhat "Caro Emerald-esque") song, written (surprisingly) by Donald Fagen of Steely Dan fame - one of my favourite numbers of the whole evening, Do Wrong Shoes. [Unfortunately her interpretation is not online anywhere, so this is a version by Jackie Allen]:

Mr Joe Stilgoe is someone of whose music, much to my chagrin, I had heard little before. After this performance, I shall certainly be making amends on that score! He is incredibly talented, and an often very funny entertainer – even reinterpreting the lyrics of such “untouchables” as They All Laughed or Wonderful World.

Not merely a miraculous jazz pianist (the things he can do with that keyboard!) but guitarist too - and he "plays" the mute trumpet, just by “tooting” with his mouth – he has a vocal style reminiscent of Harry Connick or even Bobby Darin (and definitely better than Jamie Cullum!), and could effortlessly switch between swing, “interpretive jazz” and smooth “lounge” sounds, as accompanist to Miss Martin and on his own numbers.

They complimented each other beautifully.

So much of “our kind of music” was here. So many classics by our staple diet of songwriters – Noel Coward, the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Yip Harburg, Irving Berlin. In the hands of these two consummate professionals, we were absolutely in our element.

A perfect evening!

Claire Martin website

Joe Stilgoe website

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Another day, another dollar

I love my office...

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

I hear what you say, I see what you do

"Now, who had hold of my showerproof? It’s irreplaceable, you know, being in tangerine poplin, which apparently there’s no call for."

Timeslip moment again - and today the wormhole has dropped us back 19 years to 1996...

Nudging around the middle reaches of the charts this week (on its second outing, incidentally - it was first released almost a year earlier) was the fabulously boppy sound of La Bouche (one of Mr Frank Farian's side-projects, post-Boney M and definitely post-Milli Vannilli) and Be My Lover:

Oh, I can just smell the dry ice...

La Bouche

Monday, 23 March 2015

Totty of the Day

Mr Aidan Turner, currently winning the "battle of the britches" in his star turn in the remake of Poldark.

Just call me Demelza...

A little bit of heatness

Oh bloody hell! It's Monday again, and after a lovely weekend pottering in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers, the very last thing I want to do is go back to work.

Never mind, dear Joan Crawford's birthday is today, and that's something that cannot be ignored. Thus, on this Tacky Music Monday, here is the immortal lady herself - blacked-up like some early RuPaul, and in a wig-tearing strop - with Two-Faced Woman (from the intensely tacky 1953 movie Torch Song, and, to add insult to injury, dubbed by India Adams):

It's no wonder we queens all love her so!

Have a good week, people.

Joan Crawford (born Lucille Fay LeSueur, 23rd March 1904 (some sources list 1905, 1906 or 1908) – 10th May 1977)

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Love, this is my song

And so, farewell Miss Jackie Trent - prolific songwriter, singer, and long-time wife and creative partner of the inimitable Tony Hatch.

Between them, they created much of the sound of the "Swinging Sixties", including songs for Scott Walker, The Montanas, Anita Harris and Connie Francis. Miss Trent collaborated in particular on many of Petula Clark's greatest hits, including I Couldn't Live Without Your Love, Colour My World, Don’t Sleep In The Subway, The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener and This is my Song (Serenade Of Love):

Jackie and Tony also went on to create several theme songs for television, including Mr and Mrs, Budgie and of course, the title song for Aussie soap-opera Neighbours.

Miss Trent did have a fearsome reputation, however:
Sandie Shaw claimed on a radio show that Miss Trent was so jealous of her relationship with their mutual manager Eve Taylor (the self-styled "Queen Bee of Showbusiness") that she pushed her into a swimming pool at a get-together.

“Sandie, Sandie, you accuse me of trying to drown you,” she retorted. “Yes darling, and I have witnesses,” said Sandie.

Trent’s parting shot was unequivocal: “And you should have been drowned at that particular time!”

Here she is singing her biggest hit Where Are You Now, My Love?:

RIP Jackie Trent (born Yvonne Burgess, 6 September 1940 – 21 March 2015)

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Song of the Day

I often have the same problem after a few sherries...