Jazz at the Movies: The Chris Ingham Quartet with Joanna Eden

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When you front one of the finest combos in the country and join forces with a seriously talented vocalist to present two sets entitled Jazz at the Movies, you have to work really hard to screw it up. I’m glad to say that at The Other Palace in late March Chris Ingham failed miserably in this respect.

Over and above his impish arpeggios, droll introductions and left-handed singing the thing that fascinates me about Mr. Ingham is his erudition. His knowledge of films, popular song and writers is almost on a par with my own (!) and I was studying this subject seriously for a good 10-15 years before he was born; this means that as far as I’m concerned I have a license to be miffed.

“…a great evening that satisfied both jazz and movie buffs. Quite a trick”.

Aided and abetted by the bass of Arnie Somogyi and the drums of George Double, to say nothing of the clarinet and tenor sax of Mark Crooks, Ingham kicked off the proceedings with a finely judged mid-tempo reading of Neal Hefti’s “The Odd Couple” before bringing on Ms Eden whose opening number, Peggy Lee’s “He’s a Tramp” from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp was indicative of the way the evening was going – i.e., interesting choices but not obvious contenders for an evening entitled Jazz at the Movies where we may have expected something from Fred and Ginger, a soupcon of Crosby, definitely some Sinatra, Gershwin, Kern etc.

We did get a little Arlen but it was more evocative of Judy in the great ballad from – as Chris rightly noted – the real A Star Is Born, The Man That Got Away”. Very wisely Ms. Eden made no attempt to emulate Judy but just sang it as a normal song; this had the effect of purging all the emotion from it.

There was another fine ballad (again one not done to death) – Michel Legrand’s “The Summer Knows” from the film Summer of 1942, with a lyric by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. There were swingers as well: “Green Dolphin Street” was almost obligatory; not too many people know that it was written by Bronislau Kaper and Ned Washington for a long-forgotten MGM flop of the same name released in 1947. I say not many people know the song’s provenance but Chris Ingham does and it’s one of the things that make his gigs stand out from the crowd.

I mention one more great ballad before putting this to bed. Chris and Joanna did Vincent Youman’s “More Than You Know” – including the fine verse – as a duet and it was very effective. All in all this was a great evening that satisfied both jazz and movie buffs. Quite a trick.

Jazz at the Movies: The Chris Ingham Quartet With Joanna Eden; The Other Palace Studio, Palace St, London; 28 March 2019.