Sara Dowling at The Pheasantry

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Sara Dowling

Sara Dowling, voted jazz singer of the year in the 2019 British Jazz Awards run by Big Bear Music, has as fine a set of pipes as ever came down the pike, and her sincerity, zeal and sheer passion for music is clearly visible.

She has allied herself with a first-rate trio in Ross Stanley (p), Dario Di Lecce (b) and Steve Brown (d). All four performers shone brilliantly on the fourth number in the first set, Harold Arlen’s I’ve Got The World On A String, complete with rarely heard verse.

Given that Sinatra “owns” that number, it’s difficult to get away from his reading of Nelson Riddle’s out-and-out swinging chart but Sara and the band weighed in with a slightly slower and more lilting tempo which simmered to boiling point with all four enjoying a well-deserved moment in the sun.

This was the best number of the evening despite stalwarts like Ol’ Devil Moon, If I Knew Then What I Know Now and I’m All Smiles, which Sara attributed to four unnamed writers. It was actually written by Michael Leonard and Herbert Martin for the 1965 Broadway musical The Yearling which, despite boasting this number and the equally exquisite Why Did I Choose You?, lasted only one performance.

Sara included several songs written by herself and performed several more entirely in Portuguese. Let’s hope for more evenings like this, perhaps with a soupçon of nostalgia added to the bowlful of modern interpretations.

Sara Dowling, The Pheasantry, King’s Road, London, 4 September 2021

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