Tag Archives: Oran Mor

Jazz on Film: No One But Me

One of the highlights of the jazz calendar in Scotland this year (if you limited it to Glasgow, it would probably be my only personal highlight) was the pair of concerts given by the great Annie Ross at Glasgow’s Oran Mor back in February.

Ross was in town to attend the premiere of No One But Me, a Scottish-made documentary about her, at the Glasgow Film Festival. The screening was sold-out and it was a delight to watch the film in the company of its subject and so many of her friends and family – though the Q&A session afterwards was not what it would have been had the presenter known anything about jazz.

Very evocative, entertaining and insightful, with some great music and clips (not least some rarely seen footage of Ross as a child star) and featuring some very frank interviews with Ross herself, as well as with pals and colleagues, No One But Me is  must-see.

It does, however, have the air of an “authorised biography” about it, as it very much reflects Ross’s point of view and the way she wants her life and life choices to be seen. In fact, there’s probably another, unofficial, biographical documentary to be made – featuring the part(s) of her life that she didn’t want to relive, and the people who weren’t interviewed.

Anyway, if you live in Scotland you can make up your own mind as the film is screening at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17; at Eden Court Cinema, Inverness on October 28 and at MacRobert Cinema, Stirling on October 31 – all as part of the Luminate Festival.

Here’s a reminder of how the grande dame of the jazz scene sounded on those two magical evenings in Glasgow, in the company of Tardo Hammer (piano) and Andy Cleyndert (bass).

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Review: Martin Taylor & Alison Burns

Martin Taylor & Alison Burns, Oran Mor, Glasgow, June 15 2012 ****

Katharine Hepburn famously said of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers that he gave her class and she gave him sex appeal – and something similar applies to the duo of guitarist Martin Taylor and singer Alison Burns. They each bring something quite different to the partnership and that contrast is what makes it work. While the virtuoso guitarist adds colour and finesse to the double act, his singing daughter-in-law brings a warmth to the proceedings and makes Taylor’s technically dazzling playing more accessible. (Indeed, his numerous solo numbers almost seemed to belong to a different gig.)

That was certainly very evident at their Oran Mor concert last night, part of the West End Festival. When the pair were onstage together, they dished up some lovely duets. Burns, who has gained in confidence and presence since the last time I heard her (three years ago), has a velvety voice, tinged with Julie London-esque breathiness but considerably more assured.

Like London she doesn’t mess with the melody, and instead keeps it simple, paying attention to the lyrics and meaning – though only a few of the songs last night had any real emotional depth; moving readings of Stevie Wonder’s If It’s Magic and Sasha Distel’s The Good Life being notable exceptions. Her sugary Sophisticated Lady just served as a nostalgic reminder of Annie Ross’s gutsy, heart-wrenching take on the similarly themed Lush Life on the same stage four months ago …

* First published in The Scotsman, June 16 2012. 

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Review: Rose Room

Rose Room, Arlington Baths, Glasgow, Friday June 8 ***

They may have opened to members in 1870 but the Arlington Baths’ West End Festival gig last night was the first concert in its 142-year history. Anyone who inferred from the festival programme that they might be sitting round the pool watching the band perform was in for a surprise/shock as the hour-long performance actually took place in the cosy bar where the band looked set to contend with noisy weans, diners and oldies out for a Friday night pint.

From the off, however, this Quintet of the Hot Club of France inspired quartet grabbed the attention of the punters and held on to it for most of the gig. Their stock in trade is jaunty, unpretentious, feelgood, gypsy jazz and their not-so secret weapon; the element which elevates it above what it would otherwise be, is Seonaid Aitken who sings in a ladylike style that contrasts with the passion of her more reckless-sounding violin playing which is dynamic and occasionally dazzling.

Indeed, whenever the attention of the audience began to wane – unsurprisingly, given that the punters hadn’t paid for tickets and were (children aside) somewhat the merrier for the cheap bar – it was Aitken who drew it back. In a programme, and genre, dominated by fast or mid-tempo tunes, it was the ballads which stood out. Blues in My Heart was a stylishly arranged and executed example of Rose Room at its best, with lead guitarist Tom Watson serving up a particularly groovy solo and Aitken’s vocals a delight.

Ditto for the concert’s stand-out Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me on which the gentle swing of Watson’s and Tam Gallagher’s guitars plus Jimmy Moon’s bass proved the perfect setting for her dreamy voice.

Catch them in a full concert at Oran Mor on June 22.

First published in The Scotsman,  Saturday June 9

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Annie Ross, in action (Part 2)!

Here’s another video I filmed of Annie Ross in Glasgow last month. Forgive the  wobbly camera work .. I had to move to a better position, closer to the stage, for this one as I knew it would be a treat.. 

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Annie Ross, in action!

I don’t want to rub it in (but I will if you want me to!) but here’s a wee taste of how Annie Ross sounded in Glasgow a fortnight ago .. More will follow – temperamental camera allowing..

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Review: Annie Ross

Annie Ross, Oran Mor, Glasgow, Tuesday February 21st *****

Missing a flight due to an expired passport, getting it renewed on a public holiday, flying from New York, giving interviews, attending a film premiere … any octogenarian who had had the kind of week that Annie Ross had already had by Tuesday night might feel a bit tired. But then Annie Ross is not just any octogenarian.

Clearly energised by the terrific reception she’d just had at the film festival, the jazz star took to the stage at Oran Mor and did not leave it for 90 minutes. She didn’t even take a break to let her top-drawer duo – pianist Tardo Hammer and bass player Andy Cleyndert – carry the load for a while. And what’s more, her deep, rich voice sounded stronger and more commanding than I’d heard it before.

She held the audience spellbound with her vivid and utterly compelling renditions of a series of ballads. She may not be able to sustain notes – and filling in the gaps with colour and wit is a task stylishly pulled off by Hammer – but she paints a beautiful picture and tells a gripping story. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and One Meatball, a Depression-era number, were mini-dramas and the audience hung on every word she sang.

Indeed, it’s her commitment to the lyrics which shines through; they’re invested with emotion and intelligence – and there are few singers who care as much about the meaning of what they’re singing. Among many highlights Lush Life was a particular stand-out – not only because to hear Ross perform it is like being given a masterclass in life lessons, but also because she learned it direct from its writer, Billy Strayhorn…

ANNIE ROSS with Tardo Hammer (piano) and Andy Cleyndert (bass), Tuesday February 21st

Nobody Else But Me

The Very Thought of You

Speak Low

Trav’lin’ Light

C’mon Home

In the Gentle Rain -Here’s That Rainy Day-Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry-If You Could See Me Now

Four

Remind Me

Twisted

A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

Watch What Happens

Lush Life

Bye Bye Blackbird

One Meatball

I Thought About You (scroll down for Thursday night’s programme)

Annie Ross with Tardo Hammer (piano) and Andy Cleyndert (bass), Oran Mor, Glasgow, Thursday, February 23rd

Nobody Else But Me

The Very Thought of You

Fun to Be Fooled

My Old Flame

Sing Baby Sing

I Wonder What Became of Me

Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me

A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

But Not For Me

Sure Thing

Poor You

Day In, Day Out

Nobody’s Heart-By Myself

Music Is Forever

Lush Life

One Meatball

encore:  I Got Rhythm

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