Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Joy Ellis and friends at the Cramphorn


A very enjoyable hour in the company of young musicians from the Guildhall's Jazz Performance Masters class of 08. This was lounge jazz: smooth, creamy and warming – all that was missing, thank heavens, was the smoky atmosphere.

The band began with Herby Hancock's Dolphin Dance, then, joined by singer Helen Burnett, a varied set, starting with Delilah, a lovely wordless duet with Liam Byrne's sax. Dai Richards' bass shone in Hoagy Carmichael's Skylark – never too early in the day for a weepy ballad. Helen's most impressive vocal work was in All or Nothing At All, her rubato pulling the line around very effectively. At the piano was Joy Ellis, making a welcome return to these friendly lunchtime sessions. I couldn't work out why the piano was placed with her back to the audience, though.

The concert ended all too soon with Jobim's No More Blues. No encores as these sessions, apparently, perhaps so that skiving office workers can be back at their desks ...

You can join the regular aficionados most Wednesdays at 1 in the Cramphorn – bring your lunch, the music is free – impresario and tireless enthusiast Jeffery Wilson especially recommends Ruth Montgomery on April 9, Susie Self on May 28, and on May 14 the Irish flute of Elmear McGeown, “a frighteningly good musician”.

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