For the past three years, I have been fortunate enough to visit the capital during the exciting time that is London Jazz Festival.
I have never stayed for too long – it being a little like the Edinburgh Fringe, in that it is very easy to purchase so many tickets for so many shows you end up almost bankrupt – but 2 years ago I managed to see awe-inspiring concerts from both Take 6, and Kurt Elling. Incredible stuff!
The following year, I was lucky enough to have a gig in London myself at the beginning of a week in the festival, so my plan was to hang around for a few days – no fixed plans or tickets – and see what creative and interesting music I could find. Unfortunately, I was struck down by a nasty cold, and so (with the exception of a free concert in the foyer of the Barbican Centre) I missed all the music and spent my time sniffing and sneezing in various friends’ houses and feeling sorry for myself!
This year, I purchased tickets for just one show. The God Father of Vocalese – an art form that inspires, amazes and (unfortunately still) defeats me. The 89-year old vocalist and lyricist was performing 5 shows over 3 days in Ronnie Scotts, and I decided that I would go to the first night.
I arrived at Ronnies (my second ever visit, after going earlier this year to see the never-disappointing Elling) 10 minutes into the supporting act. 2 tap dancers and a instrument-swapping trio graced the stage. I was seated right at the front of the stage, and marvelled at the wonderful rhythms emanating from the dancers’ feet.
And then Jon Hendricks and his group began. ‘Lambert, Hendricks and Ross Take 2’ (Burke, Hendricks and Hendricks in fact). He may be nearly in his nineties, and occasionally frail-looking, with his striped suit seemingly hanging off him, but he’s quick as a whip and funny to boot. And he’s still got the skills, albeit occasionally slipping up with the mic stand, clip and lead.
It’s difficult for me to describe the concert without going into a detailed account, and given that he ran overtime by at least half an hour (thank goodness I wasn’t at the Friday or Saturday late shows!) I think it would take me a while to do so. Sufficed to say, I’m extremely glad that I went and got to see the legend in action! It is interesting to note that, similar to Tony Bennett, Hendricks also used the concert to showcase the talents of his daughters (“If you want a great jazz singer, you have to raise them yourself”). Although, in my opinion, this choice was a better-made one. It didn’t feel like ‘cashing in’ on an opportunity, but a genuine family affair, with an awful lot of love and respect up on stage.
There were bow-ties on his socks, there was a laughter-interrupted 5 minute vocal ‘bass solo’, there were a few flout (because a flout and a flute are different, and Hendricks “flouts convention”) solos whistled out on a drum stick, and a few great jokes (“I’m only serious..!”) and an encore that the sound man wasn’t expecting, and then it was time for me to leave Ronnies and catch the Tube to Brixton.
The following day (thanks to many MANY suggestions of lovely coffee shops via@LDN on Twitter) I found Drink, Shop & Do in Kings Cross and grabbed a bite to eat before hopping back on the train for Yorkshire.
The following day, I had a gig at Sheffield’s Festive Market. With a wonderful trio behind me and a great audience in front, the performance in the Peace Gardens went down very well, and thankfully (as it’s only November) I got away with not singing any Christmas numbers or feeling prematurely festive. I also got a free veggie burger from the stall owner as his staff had enjoyed our performance so much. Win! 🙂
This brings us to today. Which I have been rather excited about for around 8 weeks now. Today, I took another step towards turning my house into a home (I have been slowly doing so over the past three years) by inviting a new addition in.
This is he:
I think that his name in Hendricks (though I’m not quite sure). He is small, and slightly unsteady on his feet, though occasionally surprisingly confident in his movements. And he has quite the singing voice, as he proved on the drive home!
I had always thought I would call my kitten ‘Elling’, so I’m still trying to settle on the name with more certainty. I like the idea of having a Jazz Cat cat. 🙂
Given this new distraction, I fear my to do list (which includes video editing of a session I did with Gav a week or so ago) will be tackled a little slower than before, but I will try. As I will also try not to post too many photos of the new addition over the next few weeks..
Thanks for reading. Exciting times ahead, so I hope to keep this blog up to date. 🙂