Monday, 19 September 2011

'Music Deco' at Kennaway House Sunday 28 August (becomes 'Le Jazz Quartet' Sunday 25 September)

Music Deco
Piano Andrew Daldorph, Clarinet Chris Gradwell, Voice Kate Walker
 Following their celebrated debut at Kennaway House in Sidmouth on Sunday 27 March this year (details), the 'Le Jazz' quartet have appeared again in Kennaway's cellar bar with authors and actors performing 'Poetry and Sketches' on Sunday 14 May.
On Sunday 28 August two of the musicians joined forces with soprano Kate Walker to form 'Music Deco'.
Music Deco is a revival of a revival. Chris Gradwell enjoyed great success in the seventies and eighties with his group 'Music Deco' playing great jazz numbers from the twenties and thirties - the period of 'art deco'. More recently, at a benefit concert a couple of years ago, Chris and his new piano accompanist Andrew Daldorph met the beautiful soprano Kate Walker - and Music Deco was reborn!
At Kennaway House Chris and Andrew played magnificently as always, and Kate introduced something very new and exciting to the mix. From the very first number (Paul Reade's 'Bien Venu!') Kate amazed us all with her extraordinary scat singing, using her voice like an instrument to pour out nonsense syllables in a breathtaking torrent of sound. Very much in keeping with the tradition of the great scat exponent Ella Fitzgerald!
Kate's pure soprano voice also excelled in the classics, including songs only recently rediscovered, like Gershwin's exhilarating 'Naughty Baby' - such high notes!
Chris and Andrew gave us some impassioned solo performances on clarinet, sax and piano keyboard, including Sid Phillips' theme tune from his fifties radio show, 'Clarinet Cadenza', and Bix Beiderbecke's 'In a Mist' written for the Paul Whitemen Orchestra, and now lovingly reconstructed for piano and played with exquisite delicacy - by Andrew Daldorph.
Things really started to buzz when Kate started to interact with her entranced audience. Walking the room, embarrassing every man by inspecting his 'pedal extremities', she brought a new meaning to Fisher and Benson's 'Your Feet's too Big' - already so well known from Fats Waller's 1929 cover.
In the perfect setting of the Kennaway House Cellar Bar
Kate sings Noel Coward's 'I went to a Marvellous Party'
" - I couldn't have liked it more! "
After a relaxed interval Kate returned, apparently drunk (consummate acting of course!) and told us all about a simply  marvellous party she'd attended. ('I went to a Marvellous Party' by Noel Coward) Half spoken, half sung, the words flowed endlessly as she recounted to crazy pranks of the inter-war party set. A masterpiece of acting and interaction with the audience, this number was an absolute joy to watch - and to hear. Andrew and Chris in the background kept up an incredible volley of inspired musical creativity, quite equalling Kates vocal virtuosity.
More great jazz followed even including a whistling solo from Kate. For the second half Kate's microphone had been abandoned - it had been playing up in the first half - and it was clear that she simply did not need it. Her stunning voice coped easily with the acousitic of the cellar, and just as easily matched the sound of the keyboard and clarinet.
After a very tender Duke Ellington number ('Do Nothing 'Til You Hear from Me') Kate treated us to another 'spectacular'. Ian Macpherson's arrangement of 'The Waltz' by ascerbic poet and wit, Dorothy Parker, recounted the interminable horrors of dancing with an unattractive and incompetent male suitor. Acting out every outrage - and her dissembling reassurances to her invisible dancing partner, with vicious asides to the audience - Kate held us in her thrall as we all relived every moment of that terrible dance. The dance music, of course was perfect - provided by Andrew and Chris. Every time Kate thought her nightmare dance was over, her invisible tormentor would call for an encore - and the band would oblige.
After so many encores in 'The Waltz' the time finally came for Music Deco's own encore, and it was a perfect choice, Fats Waller's 1925 jazz classic 'Squeeze Me'. A perfect end to an evening showcasing not only the skill and talent, but also the playful nature, of these three great musicians.

If you missed that great concert - or would like to see 'Music Deco' again - they will return to the Kennaway Cellar Bar on Sunday 27th November.

The full jazz instrumental line-up - 'Le Jazz'
Double Bass Mike Thorne, Keyboard Andrew Daldorph
Clarinet Chris Gradwell, Guitar Andrew Barrett
An the meantime on 25th September (that's this Sunday!)
and on Sunday 30th October
Andrew and Chris will be back at Kennaway house for two more evenings of Jazz, together with Mike Thorne on double bass and Andrew Barrett on guitar - 'Le Jazz Quartet'.
(The concert on 30th October with include more uplifting poetry and sketches)
For more information call Glyn Holford on 07583 796855 or watch the Classical Journey Concerts website which can be reached using the link at the top right of this webpage (jump) or looking out for the 'Concert Run-Down' on this page (e.g. the post above this one).

Andrew and Chris are also very accomplished, and very active, classical players. Andrew's 'Exeter Chamber Choir' are at the Cathedral in Exeter on 8th October (more details on 'classicaljourneyconcerts' and on the next 'Classical Journer' broadcast - 4th October) and both play in many orchestral settings. But their jazz collaborations are an additional gift to us all which is truly outstanding -
Thanks so much to you both - and to the vivacious  and amazing Kate Walker!

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