An eclectic party for birthday girl

The Vortex Jazz Club

By Jack Massarik, 10th April 2007, Evening Standard
Carol Grimes New Coats

Introduced as the venue's favourite singer, Carol Grimes also happened to be celebrating her birthday - "I'm 29 and three-quarters" - on Saturday night, but this was no self-indulgent love-in. The high-spirited veteran was eager to work, performing with all the energy, artistry and passion that had eclipsed many bigger stars at last year's Soul Britannia special.

Her latest group proved unusually versatile, and needed to be. Steve Lodder's speedy synth and piano comments offered contrast to Annie Whitehead's fruitier trombone rasps while bassist Jennifer Maidman and drummer Josefina Cupido covered rhythms ranging from the rollicking calypso of We Said Yes to the waltz time of Miles Davis's All Blues.

An eclectic programme also included songs by Nick Cave (Into My Arms), Joni Mitchell (Two Grey Rooms) and Randy Newman (You're Better Off Dead) as well as original themes that varied from the basic to the surprisingly sophisticated.

Now's the Hour, an example of the latter, featured a complicated Afrobeat line that switched into 4/4 groove for a Blue Note bridge with pleasing harmonic changes.

Vortex regulars lapped it all up, especially the unexpected moment when Grimes invited one of her vocal students, Mark Jennett, to join her for the evening's only standard, You've Changed.