Georgina Jackson Quartet takes requests at 606 Club

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Fresh back from guesting with the BBC Big Band at the Lockerbie Jazz Festival on 26 September, Wigan-born jazz singer and trumpet player, Georgina Jackson, exuded a warm, down-to-earth stage presence as she spoke of her obsession with the Great American Songbook, from whence she’d selected the majority of the numbers for this Sunday lunchtime set.

Dave Chamberlain on bass, Matt Skelton on drums and Matt Regan on piano joined Jackson and her sonorous vocals on bouncy opener, ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love’, after which she invited song requests from the audience, reminding us that this gig would be “a one-off thing: the music is never going to be played in the same way again.”

Next up came a song Jackson described wittily as a fusion of “jazz and nagging”, entitled, ‘Why Don’t You Do Right’ from her 2013 album, Peggy, Duke & Benny – Georgina Jackson and the Peter Long Quintet. It featured the fluidity of Regan’s discordant phrasing on piano, which lent to this standard a welcome piquancy. Chamberlain’s clean, long-tone pizzicato sound à la Duke Ellington double bassist, Jimmy Blanton, worked well on bossa nova, ‘Change Partners’, the title track off Jackson’s 2012 album, Watch What Happens.

Unfortunately sometimes the drums and tinny upright electric bass were slightly out of sync, and Skelton’s monotone hitting of the cymbals with sticks, too ‘big band’ in style for such an intimate venue. Jackson’s zesty vibrato on trumpet during Bunny Berigan classic, ‘I Can’t Get Started’, however, demonstrated exactly why she is a characterful force to be reckoned with in her fronting of large ensemble groups.

The introduction to ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ was rhythmically most unusual and interesting, with Jackson singing in tempo rubato accompanied by Skelton’s subtler drumming with mallets, and Eydie Gormé’s ‘I’ll Take Romance’ was performed with more energy, driven along by Chamberlain’s bass pedal point. Mixed in with the standards were some unexpected arrangements, including ‘Pure Imagination’ from the 1971 movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Jackson’s heroine, Peggy Lee’s 1957 version of ‘The Folks Who Live On The Hill’ is backed by a rich string section. Likewise, Jackson’s vocals (particularly well-suited to ballad singing) on her takedown of this song for quartet, filled the room as effectively as any orchestra could, and judging by the many CDs she sold at the end, the audience left happy.

– Gemma Boyd

– Photo by Janet Lee