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Female vocalists steal the show as jazz night proves a big hit

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: December 12, 2013

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The final session of Commuter Jazz in The Zing Bar for 2013 was held at the LPAC on Friday December 6 with a festive session from one of the regulars who have performed there over the past year Me and Mr Jones.

It was a little late in starting because of the power cut in Lincoln at teatime, but the slight delay was well accepted by a full house and the session that followed was well worth waiting for.

In the spirit of the year, vocalist Rachel Foster got us all in the mood when she sang the first seasonal song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and it is hard to believe that this classic by those prolific MGM and Broadway composers Martin & Blaine was first sung by a youthful Judy Garland in Meet Me in St Louis and has been around for almost 70 years, having been first committed to shellac in 1944.

In addition to Christmas songs we were also treated to numbers from the Great American Songbook, including Walter Donaldson's 1928 composition Love Me or Leave Me played by Paul Deats (keyboard) Martin Spencer (bass) and Stevie Smith (drums) in the style recorded by Nina Simone, some 30 years later, on her album Little Girl Blue.

The final number of the first set was another Simone Classic this time I Put a Spell on You composed by the exocentric Screamin' Jay Hawkins in 1956 and over the ensuing decades has proved its worth, by sitting at number 313 in the list of the greatest 500 songs.

Rachel and the trio then performed a moving tribute to the late Nelson Mandela who had died the previous day, by singing The South African National Anthem, and followed it with the Rogers and Hart little known 1942 number, Everything I Own Belongs to You.

They were joined by multi-talented Thom Whitworth for the closing set which concluded with their own composition Murder a tribute song to all round showman Cab Calloway.

As the audience drifted off into the cold winter evening, many were reflecting on how lucky we are in Lincoln to have Commuter Jazz, which has now firmly established itself as Lincoln's premier and only weekly jazz event and mulling over the talented musicians that have played there over the past year.

Highlights for many were Thom Whitworth's Funky Organ Sets, the laid back drumming of guest Ronnie Bottomley, the raw talent of the up and coming Robin Porter who just gets better every time he plays, along with the exciting JHQ keeping the music of Art Blakey

and The Jazz Messengers alive, and the excellent trumpeter Richard Pustelnik.

It is perhaps the female vocalists who have stolen the limelight with some memorable gigs this year and alongside Rachel Foster many rate the performances of Julie Edwards and Susan Valliant Spear.

If there was an award for the most outstanding gig of the year it would have to be shared, as I and many other regulars were completely blown away by the performances of one of the most gifted of chanteuse to play the venue Shannon Reilly, along with the charismatic bass player/vocalist Nicola Farnon.

Credit must be given to Graham J McLusky and Steve Smith for spotting a niche in the market between 5–7pm, and the new season starts on Friday January 17.

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