Chris Ingham’s answer to the frustrations of a lockdown in which all venues offering live entertainment are locked and bolted for the duration has been to feature himself playing piano, singing and chatting about a given songwriter from the living room of his home in Suffolk and charging a modest fee for the public to stream.
As I write there are positive signs that lockdown is coming into the stretch and it may be that tonight’s concert will be the last from chez Ingham. If that proves to be the case there could hardly be a better wind-up to an excellent series than 31 songs from the pen of Jimmy Van Heusen spanning roughly a quarter of a century.
Chris, of course, has something of a penchant for songwriters whether composers or lyricists and has featured them both in his pre-lockdown live gigs and in his streamings. Though Van Heusen has been in his sights for several years it is only now that he has buckled down to putting an evening together which adds the virtue of freshness to the evening.
In terms of heavy-hitters – Porter, Gershwin, Kern, Berlin, Rodgers – all of whom were well established by the 1920s, Van Heusen was something of a Johnny-Come-Lately, emerging in the late 30s but nevertheless turning out consistent hit parade material. Although like several composers he worked with various lyricists for the bulk of his career, he had only three long-term collaborators – Eddie DeLange, Johnny Burke and Sammy Cahn.
Chris featured all three lyricists, albeit Burke and Cahn divided the lion’s share between them. In fact only two of the selections – Nancy With The Laughing Face (lyric by Phil Silvers, perhaps better known as Sergeant Bilko) and I Could Have Told You (lyric by Carl Sigman) – were written with lyricists other than the three named as principals.
Chris kicked off with You Lucky People You, which was featured in the second “Road” film (Zanzibar). That set the tone for the rest of the evening inasmuch I suspect only about two thirds of the audience would have known it. That could also apply to All This And Heaven Too, Polka Dots And Moonbeams, Oh, You Crazy Moon, Ho Hum, Humpty Dumpty Heart, Aren’t You Glad You’re You, etc. It was titles like these that held serious appeal for me, although the more familiar All The Way and It Could Happen To You were not exactly chopped liver if anyone asks you.
Along with the fine singing and piano playing, Chris’s tales of Van Heusen’s raunchy life were the icing on a magical cake.