Monday, 22 July 2013

Liz Fletcher - Sultry Nights and Day

Liz Fletcher
We have topical gigs, concerts which capture the pain of mass uprising through protests and those that are quite simply the zeitgeist. Last Thursday (18/07/2013) at Twickenham Jazz Club we experienced the voice that unequivocally represents the meteorological spirit of the summer of 2013.

Twickenham, despite been surrounded by lush parks and rivers is still very much a suburb and like all sprawling conurbations simmers like a pressure cooker on these hot days. We are of course in the middle of a heat wave and we have our techniques for cooling down. Some dip their toes in paddling pools or frolic under garden hoses to take the edge of the rising temperatures. The last place you would think of going would be a Jazz Club, and to our organiser's, owner's and performer's credit, this is exactly where a packed crowd congregated on this evening.

As Liz Fletcher took to the stage, the sleek lines of her dress raised a few eyebrows as did her opening statement "I'm coming out of my top!" but it was her singing that enriched our evening. From toe to top, from beginning to end, her performance didn't pazazz us with vocal or gestural gymnastics but with a classic case of luring and exploiting her rapport with the audience. Even so it took us a few tunes to settle down and to let the cool breeze from far off Crane Park to waft past the ankles of the Twickenham Jazz Club minders Terry and Neil, who guarded The Bloomsbury's open doors.

Jim Mullen - Guitar
The TJC is at its most vociferous when blessed with both quality singers and guitarists and tonight the audience weren't disappointed. As an in-demand musician worldwide it was privilege to see Jim Mullen in our corner of South West London once again. Just returned from a Japanese tour with Incognito he regaled us with stories of working with the charming Terry Callier and his most recent gig in a Dining Tram that hurtled through the streets of Rome. Here, as in Italy, there were plenty of late night eaters and drinkers but I have never heard the kitchens and staff so quiet. The most pin-droppable moment being the trios' 'My Funny Valentine' which featured the bowing of Ben Hazelton on bass. Let us not gloss over the presence of Mullen too quickly because he was on magnificent form, excelling on Romberg and Hammerstein's 'Softly as in a Morning Sunrise'.

On a professional basis I was fully briefed on tonight's bassist, Ben Hazelton. Recently I have been working on the artwork for Bethany Jameson's Cabaret Verite and Hazelton is an essential ingredient of their joie de vivre. Maybe it is this that makes you think Hazelton has miraculously appeared from another era. I often imagine that he has just stepped forth from Edward Hopper's 1942 painting Nighthawks, with his hat and lean stubbled cheeks, he cuts quite a figure.
Both a pleasure to draw and listen too, especially on the afore mentioned Rogers and Hart tune.

Ben Hazelton - Bass
The night's mistress was Liz Fletcher, and despite the degrees descending a little as we headed closer to midnight she kept the audience piqued with her sultry voice. Taking a request from TJC favourite Max Macson, Fletcher sang Cole Porter's 'Night and Day' with a latin twist. The raised beats of our hearts coincided with a thumping rhythm as Hazelton pumped the body of his bass.

It goes without saying that Liz Fletcher represents the heat of the night rather than that of the day. On such a hot and memorable night we wondered how we could abate our boiling passions and excitement without it ending in either embarrassment or exhaustion. A brief thought of skinny-dipping in the Crane River passed through my mind on the way home but luckily sanity returned just in time.


Although that is the last in this summer's Twickenham Jazz Club reviews please keep an eye out for the FORCE open day in Kneller Gardens on the 15th September with a Jazz/Soul Band from Kingston University performing.

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