Carol Grimes at Ronnie Scott's
11th August 2010
The “HOUSE FULL” sign outside Ronnie Scott’s is showing distinct signs of wear and tear. The club’s second early August BritJazz Festival, like the first, has been a complete sell-out every night. From Managing Director Simon Cooke’s tone of voice, it sounds as if he can’t yet force himself to believe it. The crowd last night for Carol Grimes and Mike Westbrook’s Village Band included some tourists, but both bands also brought out a loyal and supportive following, notably Carol Grimes’ students, choir members and workshoppers.
In Carol Grimes the tourists will have got the authentic sound of London. Grimes deploys a range of accents from cockney sparra (This is a song wo’ I ri’ in in the Iygh’ies, De’ford ’Igh Stree’) to clearly enunciated BBC RP Alvar Liddell (particularly when repeatedly savouring every consonant and aspirate in the phrase “Annie White-Head”).
She brought a wonderful range of songs, all great material. Highlights were Steps, a song about disembodiment, populated by, inter alia, ghosts under beds. Pianist Dorian Ford rocked the delicate harmonies gently back and forth in a piano interlude, and Max De Wardener was decisive and clear on bass. Oscar Brown Jr.’s But I was Cool was a theatrical tour de force. A Tree and Me slipped deliciously in and out of wacky eroticism. Fran Landesman and Simon Wallace’s Scars brought out the Piaf power which resonated round the club. The Dance had Grimes driving the rhythm with a gesticulating and Ella-style-hip-slapping left hand. Winston Clifford had faultless volume control in every song, and Grimes also complimented him on his gifts as backing singer. His way of finding and matching her phrasing can, she ventured, only be explained by some kind of magic. Annie Whitehead is, as Londonjazz readers know, perfect.