Jacqui Dankworth & Charlie Wood At St. George’s Hall, Liverpool

Posted on 6 March 2016
By Chris High
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Take one of the finest Jazz/Blues voices around in that of Jacqui Dankworth, a pianist that can also sing with all the warmth of the comfiest of duvets in that of her husband Charlie Wood, a superb supporting trio of musicians and the fabulous back drop of Liverpool’s St. George’s Hall Small Concert Room, and what you have left is a recipe for a magical two hours of musical delight.

Celebrating some of the greatest writing of the Twentieth Century, Ms. Dankworth took to the stage and immediately recognised the grandeur of the space in which she was about to sing, before emulating her surroundings with a grace, style and class that was almost tangible.

Starting out with Two to Tango, originally written and performed by Ray Charles and Betty Carter, the mood was set from the off, with Ben Castle on Saxophone being given full reign to demonstrate his immense talents, while Dudley Phillips on Double Bass and Pedro Segundo on drums provided exquisite rhythm and subtle depth to each and every melody.

This was a night for the familiar and unfamiliar to take centre stage, resulting in stylistically eclectic set that fully showed Jacqui Dankworth’s phenomenal vocal range. Billie Holliday’s Autumn In New York was simply sublime, whereas George & Ira Gershwin’s A Foggy Day in London Town was unforgettable.

There were surprises, too, with the most stirring being truly remarkable performances of Sam & Dave’s When Something Is Wrong With My Baby (Then Something Is Wrong With Me), James Taylor’s You’ve Got A Friend, Gus Khan and Harry M. Woods’ Side By Side – which here was deliciously upbeat even in comparison with the original, thereby providing the opportunity for the trio to exercise their own solo segments – and a Charlie Wood’s rearrangement of Alan & Marilyn Bergman’s Windmills of Your Mind, with an added Latin-American styled mid-section that really shouldn’t have worked, but which did magnificently.

Yet with all of these great songs and more, perhaps the stand out moment came with Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Made famous by the incomparable Roberta Flack, Jacqui Dankworth certainly had her work cut out but, by virtue of her gloriously controlled vocals, managed to deliver a moment of such melodious enchantment the mood inside the hall to grew thick with the emotion.

There are a long list of events coming to St George’s Hall’s Small Concert Room but it is difficult to imagine that any will top this and the pleasure that Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood clearly gleaned from the experience of playing here, certainly flowed into their performances which resulted in a show that will live long in the memory indeed.

Jacqui Dankworth & Charlie Wood: Just You, Just Me
St. George’s Hall Small Concert Room, Liverpool
March 5, 2016
Band: Ben Castle, Dudley Phillips, Pedro Segundo
Running Time: 2 Hours
PR Rating **** Sheer Class