REVIEW: Chilled and thrilled by easy listening jazz at King’s Lynn Festival

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THOUGHTS of smoke-filled rooms from black and white movies came to mind while listening to the Jacqui Dankworth Quartet at the King’s Lynn Festival.

An audience of more than 300 people inside the impressive Guildhall Arts Centre were chilled and thrilled at the same time by an evening of smooth, easy listening jazz fronted by the daughter of Dame Cleo Laine and the late Sir John Dankworth.

The style and sound of Miss Dankworth’s voice was clearly inherited from her mother, but the concert itself was more of a tribute to Sir John who passed away in February 2010.

That was illustrated with songs such as My Foolish Heart, A Love Like Ours and It Happens Quietly, the title of Miss Dankworth’s most recent album recorded last year and containing material she wrote with her father before his death.

But Miss Dankworth and her quartet, which included husband and pianist Charlie Wood, also paid respect to other jazz legends such as Cole Porter with In the Still of Night and Just for a Thrill written by Louis Armstrong’s ex-wife Lil Hardin.

Songs written by Mr Wood, including Lucky Charm and an arrangement of If You Go Away, gave saxophonist Kirk Smothers the chance to display his undeniable talent.

Both the course and mood of the evening was set by A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, once sang by Dame Vera Lynn, and given a distinctly soulful treatment by Miss Dankworth.

The pace quickened with George Gershwin’s Lady Be Good and there was also time for songs by popular modern artists like James Taylor and Michael McDonald.

But Miss Dankworth was at her most intimate and intense when singing her own songs, including Time to Start Over Again, Sweet Devotion and Change Your Mind.

She was not afraid to bare her soul in between songs by admitting to the audience that some were written during times of personal disappointment and heartbreak.

The concert ended with a sharp reminder of the present day as Miss Dankworth dedicated Someday We’ll All Be Free to the politicians, bankers and “all those who got us in this financial mess.”

Light in tone and easy on the ear, the Jacqui Dankworth Quartet proved to be a fitting escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life.