Sarah Ellen Hughes (vcl); Rick Simpson (pno); Paul Susans (bs); Darren Altman (dms).
Sarah Ellen Hughes soared and swooped over a wide vocal range with supple high notes and beguiling lower tones. Yes, this singer is really the business – she even sang some bits unaccompanied and included verse parts that you don’t often hear, such as the verse to Fascinating Rhythm. Don’t know about the rest of the people, but I have fun trying to guess which song the verse belongs to. And such a friendly lively personality, thanking us for being there and giving us insights into why she wrote those songs which had come from her own pen. She added to the proceedings by looking pleasing in a short brown and white dress with a rose pattern on the skirt, a red rose in her hair and red shoes. And to be fair and feminist, I’ll tell you that the men of the band were wearing smart suits and ties, except for Paul, who was all black in jumper and trousers, perhaps a code to show that he was not a regular member of the band. So they gave us a sense of occasion, and the occasion was partly to promote the new album The Story So Far, which is OUT NOW.
Numbers played included a soaring version of My Favourite Things; Ms Hughes original song Darning The Dream (about coming to terms with the death of her mother); a sexy version of Love For Sale (with some raunchy words added to it, from the pen of Sting); a lively Brazilian medley; and One Note Samba (an adventurous arrangement with some unaccompanied clapping from the whole band). My favourite of the original songs was Busy Bee, about working hard. The performance ended with Lady be Good, and the lady was good, as she once more treated us to her solo voice, the drummer did a stomping solo, and our singer and the bass swopped fours as if there was no tomorrow. I should have mentioned the band before – they did their stuff really well with lots of interesting solos. For instance, for the song Close To You, the piano introduction portrayed flying birds, then the song began by referring to these same birds.
The Community Room at the theatre was just about half full, but this performance deserved a much bigger audience. I wonder why? Is it the recession, or do jazz fans go elsewhere on Fridays? Anyone who likes skilled singing would have enjoyed this, not just jazz fans, so where were you?