Photo above Kasia Rose Hrybowicz
Carol at Ronnie Scott’s: reviews + A track
Photo David Sinclair
SOLD OUT – Mike Westbrook Village Band & Carol Grimes:
BRIT JAZZ FEST DOUBLE BILL
Wednesday 11th August
11th August 2010 at Ronnie Scott’s
Carol Grimes used her first appearance at the club since Ronnie Scott’s death to look back over her career, as signposted by her changing London addresses from Bethnal Green to Westbourne Grove. Starting with ˜Who Knows Where The Time Goes? By former drinking buddy Sandy Denny, her set was a warm and witty personal tour, demonstrating a knack for holding an audience’s attention that was hard-won in her early busking days.
˜Steps’ a Bethnal Green song featuring a sensitive piano solo by Dorian Ford, demonstrated Grimes skill as a lyricist. It was a pair of contrasting Oscar Brown Jnr. tunes, though that provided the centrepiece and highlight of the set. ˜But I Was Cool was as fabulously full-throated and profane (bolstered by Annie Whitehead’s trombone) as ‘A Tree And Me ‘ was contemplative. Grimes finished by bringing us up to date with songs from her Deptford a poor woman’s penthouse Chagall-inspired waltz ˜The Dance and ˜The Weatherman,’ a blues with lyrics by poet John Shaw. Another Shaw (Ian) was among the admirers who dropped in to witness her unvarnished soulfulness.
The “HOUSE FULL” sign outside Ronnie Scott’s is showing distinct signs of wear and tear. The club’s second early August Brit Jazz Festival, like the first, has been a complete sell-out every night. From Managing Director Simon Cooke’s tone of voice, it sounds as if he can’t yet force himself to believe it. The crowd last night for Carol Grimes and Mike Westbrook’s Village Band included some tourists, but both bands also brought out a loyal and supportive following, notably Carol Grimes’ students, choir members and workshoppers.
In Carol Grimes, the tourists will have got the authentic sound of London. Grimes deploys a range of accents from cockney sparra (This is a song wo’ I ri’ in in the Iygh’ies, De’ford ‘Igh Stree’) to clearly enunciated BBC RP Alvar Liddell (particularly when repeatedly savouring every consonant and aspirate in the phrase “Annie White-Head”)
She brought a wonderful range of songs, all great material. Highlights were “Steps,” a song about disembodiment, populated by, inter alia, ghosts under beds. Pianist Dorian Ford rocked the delicate harmonies gently back and forth in a piano interlude, and Max De Wardener was decisive and clear on bass. Oscar Brown Jr.’s “But I was Cool” was a theatrical tour de force. Tree and Me ‘ slipped deliciously in and out of wacky eroticism. Fran Landesman and Simon Wallace’s ‘Scars’ brought out the Piaf power, which resonated around the club. The Dance had Grimes driving the rhythm with a gesticulating and Ella-style-hip-slapping left hand. Winston Clifford had faultless volume control in every song, and Grimes also complimented him on his gifts as a singer. His way of finding and matching her phrasing can, she ventured, only be explained by some kind of magic. Annie Whitehead is, as London jazz readers know, perfect.
Wild Women are wonderful
I have a memory of a young girl living,
a life so strange to me.
Big hands Big heads.
Big talking Big fingers.
Pointing down at me.
All I wanted was to hang out where the Cool Cats do.
I wanted somebody to do the goo goo goo and ask me.
Hey you want come and smoke a little this,
and drink a little that, and talk the night away?
But they would say. You! get back in the corner and shut your mouth
I want to be a wild women .
Cos wild women are wonderful. X 1
Way back when I was a young girl trying
to look at life from the corner of my eye.
I bleed I feel I’m warm I’m real.
So why did I feel so low?
I wanted to put a bag, right over my head.
I wished I was stone cold roll over dead.
So tell me why is it when you know where it’s at?
First you too young for this.
Or you’re too old for that.
You’re too thin or you’re too fat.
Well it’s all fucking crap!