Lenore Raphael played just five gigs on her UK tour, which put our concert at Christ Church right up there with the Bull's Head at Barnes and Steinway Hall in London. So it was a great privilege to have her play for us and the near-capacity audience loved it.
In Jeremy Clarkson style: "If this gig was a cake, what sort of cake would it be?" Well, the music certainly wasn't one of your gran's fruit cakes, a bit dry to swallow and with the risk of unexpected hard lumps. And it wasn't Krispy Kreme jazz, bulked up with enough corn fructose to make your teeth hurt. Nor was it a straight-laced Victoria sponge on a paper doily... Nope, if this gig was a cake it would have to be the perfect American cupcake: beautifully textured, melt-in-the-mouth, and with the sort of icing keeps you coming back for more. Yum!
The tunes were mainly of the kind which those of us of a certain age call "familiar". Gershwin got a look-in, as did Jerome Kern, Rodgers & Hammerstein - and Duke Ellington, of course. For Michael Eagleton of the Marlow Jazz Club there was an extra cherry in the shape of Charlie Parker's "Confirmation". And the evening was rounded off, as Lenore's performances always are, with her own "Blues for O.P." Terrific stuff, all of it. But perhaps best were a delightful version of "It might as well be spring" and a peachy "Georgia on my Mind", both of which showed off to perfection Lenore's gentle delicacy of touch, well suited by our Bechstein piano.
On the drums, Peter Ingram is no pixie (as I heard one of the audience whisper, "He looks like he could fall off the stool at any moment") but he never threatened to overshadow the piano and some deft touches of gentle subtlety drew smiles and chuckles from the appreciative crowd. Behind, Dave Green's bass was simply sublime: his solo in "Georgia" was a lyrical mini-masterpiece and rightly acclaimed with applause. Hard to believe that he had never played with Lenore before!
Lenore herself told an anecdote of how she met her great inspiration, Oscar Peterson, on a jazz cruise. Oscar's huge hands could stretch a twelfth (an octave and a half) while Lenore says she struggles to manage a tenth. She asked the great man for any practical advice he might have. "Fake it", he replied. Well, there was no fakin' required last night and the enthusiasm of the audience was certainly for real.
So, another great evening of jazz at Christ Church. Thanks to the stars and thanks to Michael and the Jazz Club for their huge support. And a special mention for Elliot, for loan of the drum kit!
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