A Christmas Wingding with Jacqui Dankworth, Charlie Wood & Friends at The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh was as the title of the show suggests a chance to catch up with two famous names in the Jazz world and some of their “friends” in a very informal “Christmas Party” setting and, like all the best parties, at times a bit unscheduled and improvised (in the best possible way) as the evening included not only music but words, poetry and some festive memories from Jacqui.
Our “professional music” friends this evening consisted of Chris Garrick (violin), Todd Gordon (vocals/MC), Alyn Cosker (drums), Oli Hayhurst (bass), Colin Steele (trumpet), Martin Kershaw (saxophone) and Chris Greive (trombone). As always, nice to have Todd Gordon on stage with some effortlessly smooth vintage Christmas songs, and never failing to impress the trumpet sounds of Colin Steele. An interesting reworking of The Beatles “Here There and Everywhere” from Chris Garrick on violin, with our other guests at times a little underused as I know from seeing them many times on stage just how deep their musical talents run.
This really in the end though was the “Dankworth Christmas show” with Jacqui Dankworth performing an at times eclectic collection of songs, but worth it all for one song for me – a wonderful version of the Ewan MacColl classic “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”. All music tonight was arranged by Charlie Wood who seemed to be having some great fun with his Ray Charles inspired version of the classic “Georgia on My Mind” with Colin Steele getting a chance to let loose on an impressive trumpet solo.
Our official headline music guests got to take a little back seat tonight though as students from The City of Edinburgh Music School performed their own sets and at times accompanied our professional musicians on stage. The pupils from the music school represent an ongoing investment in the future of music from Jacqui Dankworth, Charlie Wood and The Queen’s Hall development programme, and as well as getting the chance to perform on the Queen’s Hall stage, working with the musical talent around them must have been a huge early Christmas present for everyone involved.
It is always great to see established professional artists and venues investing their time into the next generation of musicians, and for that reason I have not used our usual star rating system on this show as these young musicians need time to learn and to develop their talents far more than the critical response of a reviewer at this stage in their development. One little word of advice though folks – when you are in the back-stage area, depending on where you are sitting in the hall it is possible to hear you all over what should be heard on stage alone.
Of course, there was the obligatory “audience participation game” towards the end, but this is always for me treading into dangerous territory as not everyone wants to join in or even is capable of joining in, and if not carefully done it can leave some people so obviously standing out from the crowd, and that is not a good place (or feeling) for anyone to ever be in.
This evening was supported by the JKLM Trust.
Review by Tom King