Attending this event was something of a 50-50 shot for me. I’ve been an admirer of Cole Porter since I was knee-high to a dotted crochet, but I didn’t know Sam Jewison from Adam’s off ox. I reasoned, however, that even if Jewison couldn’t sing the note before note #1 at least he’d be murdering the top of the cream in The Great American Songbook. On that basis, 7 p.m. on Tuesday, 15 November found me bright-eyed and bushy tailed, poised over my notebook at Crazy Coqs, preparing to bask in the words and music of a titan.
At seven on the dot, a man on the stood blew some gutbucket notes on a trumpet and Sam made his way to the stand, intoning the verse to I Get A Kick Out Of You. Having attained the stand, he sat at the piano and played and sang the song in full. The audience – predominantly 30-somethings – couldn’t get enough.
Mr. Jewison brought with him four good men and true in the shape of Harry Sankey (guitar), Fraser Smith (tenor), Joe Dessauer (drums) and Harry Evans (string bass and trumpet). Together these five laid 15 Cole Porter standards on an appreciative audience. There were no lesser-known items – all 15 were of the order of Night And Day, Just One Of Those Things etc.
Every musician on the stand was in full evening dress, complete with bow tie – in short, looking sophisticated. Every note and word that flowed artlessly from Porter’s pen was imbued with that very quality, and the performers tonight made a decent fist of it, even if Jewison’s piano playing outshone his singing.
Overall, this was an evening of superlative material and performances that put a huge smile on the collective face of the audience.
Sam Jewison Sings Cole Porter. Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood St, London as part of the London Jazz Festival