Chris Ingham Quartet: Hoagy II

Suffolk singer and pianist continues to ply the songbook, this time producing a second Hoagland tribute, with Paul Higgs on trumpet

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Hoagy Carmichael was one of the most prolific Tin Pan Alley songwriters of the 1930s. He composed hundreds of songs, often working with lyricists such as Frank Loesser, Johnny Mercer and Harold Adamson.

Pianist and singer Chris Ingham recorded his first Hoagy album in 2012 and released it two years later. His new CD, Hoagy II, with its similarly handsome vintage book-effect cover, is a worthy successor.

Artful arrangements of 15 of the composer’s songs include well-known ones such as Heart And Soul, The Nearness Of You, (Up A) Lazy River and In The Cool Cool Cool Of The Evening alongside comparatively lesser known numbers such as Billy-a-Dick and Down Boy. The album captures the essence of Carmichael’s catchy, jazz-influenced melodies and their droll, laconic lyrics perfectly.

With Ingham vibrant on piano and vocals, the quartet comprises trumpeter Paul Higgs (formerly with Shorty Rogers, Johnny Dankworth & Nancy Wilson) exquisitely invoking the spirit of cornettist Bix Beiderbecke; Rev. Andrew Brown (Steve Harley, Pete Oxley) commanding on double bass and George Double (Jack Jones, Art Themen, John Etheridge) polished on drums. The performance of all four musicians is superb.

Ingham says in his liner notes “These 70-100 year-old songs still sing to us, still make us stop for a moment. Dazzling absurdity juxtaposes plaintive romanticism while at the centre of everything (is) the eternal quest for the peacefully dandy.” Hoagy II expresses this in spades.

Discography
Don’t Forget To Say No Baby; (Up A) Lazy River; The Monkey Song; Ain’t There Anyone Here For Love?; Billy-a-Dick; Small Fry; Jubilee; Two Sleepy People; In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening; Rockin’ Chair; Down Boy; The Nearness Of You; Winter Moon; I Walk With Music; Heart And Soul (51.10)
Ingham (p, v); Paul Higgs (t); Rev. Andrew Brown (b); George Double (d). Bardwell, Suffolk, April 2023.
Downhome Records DOHO006