Tag Archives: Paul Harrison

Edinburgh Jazz Festival 2017: Carol Kidd Sings the Music of Judy Garland

Carol Kidd Sings the Music of Judy Garland, George Square Spiegeltent, Edinburgh ***
 
If there has been one consistent talking point through this year’s Edinburgh Jazz Festival it has been frustration with its Easyjet method of boarding – making audiences for the tents queue outside; only to be allowed into the venue at the time that the concert is scheduled to start.
 
At Thursday’s Carol Kidd concert, one which was always likely to draw a high proportion of golden oldie ticket holders, observers braced themselves for fisticuffs as a bunch of stick-wielding geriatrics sprang unexpectedly from benches in George Square Gardens and formed a Saga-style stampede into the venue ahead of the punters who had been waiting in the mile-long queue. 
 
Kidd herself referred to the problems of age during an enjoyable 90 minutes in which she evoked the spirit of Ella Fitzgerald by gamely improvising the lyrics she had forgotten, but the main challenge she faced was on ballads – normally her strongest suit. The problem was that her band – pianist Paul Harrison and bassist Mario Caribe – didn’t provide enough colour, depth or texture behind her as she sang such beautiful ballads as The Man Who Got Away. 
 
Kidd has sung Gershwin’s Do It Again in a slowed-down, seductive and suggestive style before and it has been magic, but on Thursday, there was so little going on behind the long, not very varied, notes of the melody that it began to seem funereal rather than sexy. Even her musical Meg Ryan moment on the “oh-oh-oh” failed to relight the fire …
 
* First published in The Scotsman on Saturday July 22nd
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Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival: Elaine Delmar

Elaine Delmar, Tron Kirk *****

It’s a long time since the English jazz and cabaret singer Elaine Delmar gave a concert north of the border – so her Wednesday evening appearance at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival was a real treat, and one which was reinforced by the fact that her band (unnamed in the festival programme) comprised Jim Mullen (guitar), Paul Harrison (piano), Paddy Bleakley (bass) and John Rae (drums).

Delmar is a class act; a commanding, majestic singer with an impressive range which she negotiates with elegance and taste, plunging from her highest notes to her lowest with unshowy ease on Some of My Best Friends Are the Blues, one of the highlights of Wednesday’s concert. Her magnetic smile, the way she gently swivelled as she sang – to be able to see and be seen by all areas of the audience – combined with her playfulness and the warmth she exuded were reminiscent of the great Maxine Sullivan.

Among the many stand-outs of this 90-minute set, which should have carried a three-line whip for Edinburgh’s many singers, were a moving interpretation of the Edith Piaf ballad If You Love Me, with Jim Mullen providing sensitive accompaniment; an unusually, and delightfully, slow duo version of Tea for Two (the number which has undoubtedly earned more royalties than any other this jazz fest), with Paul Harrison; a gorgeous and laid-back S’Wonderful which seemed to evoke Fred Astaire’s recording with the Oscar Peterson group, and It Was Just One of Those Things which boasted one of the funkiest of Harrison’s funky solos of the night. A selection of songs from Porgy and Bess were the just icing on a very classy cake.

* First published in The Herald, Friday July 24th

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Review: Houston Person/Alan Barnes

Houston Person, Alan Barnes and the Paul Harrison Trio, Dryfesdale Hotel, Lockerbie, Sunday October 2nd ****

It’s always a gamble throwing together musicians who don’t really know each other. And, although American tenor man Houston Person and British multi-instrumentalist Alan Barnes had shared front-line duties on Saturday night’s all-star sextet gig at the Lockerbie Jazz Festival, they still seemed a little uncertain of each other at the start of their Sunday afternoon concert.

It only took a few numbers, however, and this pair were cooking. “We’re going to do something we haven’t done this weekend,” announced Person, in his longest song introduction. “Stay sober?” quipped Barnes. “Well, you can … We’re going to go down, so far down,” explained Person, as he led the band into a sensational, funky, downright dirty blues which threatened to blow the roof off the hotel conservatory and inspired brilliant playing from the two saxophonists and, in particular, pianist Paul Harrison whose solo worked the audience into a frenzy of enthusiasm. Later on, they whipped the crowd into a further frenzy with a storming Lester Leaps In and revisited the funky blues territory with a terrific take on Sunny.

Harrison and Barnes are regular collaborators and it was a treat to hear them together on Barnes’s own tune The Hawk – a lovely, uptempo, twist on Out of Nowhere. Person’s balladeering prowess was showcased several times, most successfully on a sumptuous and characteristically majestic Fools Rush In, which also boasted an exquisite baritone solo by Barnes. Unfortunately, Person’s earlier ballad, When I Fall In Love, had been spoiled by drummer Doug Hough’s intrusive cymbals.

(First published in The Scotsman, Monday October 3rd)

Unfortunately, my memory card ran out during the next tune but I figured it was worth sharing anyway…

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