Friday 13th August
Newcastle Jazz Festival at Newcastle Civic Centre
This promised much and delivered even more! Alice Grace singing Ella Fitzgerald backed by a swinging big band - what could go wrong?
Nothing! Absolutely nothing!
From the opening Honeysuckle Rose which began so gently with just the rhythm section behind her before erupting like Vesuvius when the full band hit the triple fortissimos until the final That Old Black Magic Alice had the audience enraptured.
Our girl looked good and sounded even better - or was it vice versa? - probably both!
The songs had all been recorded by Ella F and feature on the recently recorded crowd-funded album Alice and the band will shortly release. Every one a gem.
Frank Loesser and Jule Styne's I Said No with its clever and amusing lyric. Puttin' on the Ritz, a song that Irving Berlin wrote for the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie Top Hat, had an alto solo from Steve Summers and, whilst Ginger may have been able to dance backwards in high heels Alice didn't chance it but, instead, was content to deliver an impeccable vocal.
Mean to Me featured nice tenor from Jamie Toms and that great line by Roy Turk - why must you be mean to me when you know what you mean to me? Comparable with anything Cole Porter wrote! Certainly better than Can't Buy me Love although Alice and SSBB, like Ella before her, proved that you can make a purse out of a sow's ear.
A Flower is a Lovesome Thing, sung tenderly and effectively with Dave Kerridge blowing tenor on the Strayhorn classic. Lullaby of Broadway and a Michael Lamb arrangement of There's a Boat That's Leavin' Soon For New York proved that there's more to Porgy and Bess than Summertime. Gil Evans arranged it for Miles but Michael's version would probably have been too fast for Miles. Fortunately, it wasn't for Alice.
Steve Summers blew on Get Happy then we hit the penultimate Time After Time. This had been quite a set. Get happy? We certainly did!