Wendy Kirkland Quartet at the Marsden Jazz Festival, 2019

My first jazz festival north of the Watford Gap

Wendy Kirkland, on piano and vocals, began the evening at the New Inn with Sunday in New York. This number was a real swinger and a great way to get proceedings underway on a chilly night in Marsden. The other members of the quartet playing this evening were: Roger Beaujolais on vibraphone, Pat Sprakes was playing bass guitar, and Steve Wyndham was behind the drum kit.

The first set consisted of five numbers including a wonderful interpretation of Nina Simone’s My Baby Just Cares for Me; a delightful cover of Diana Krall’s East of the Sun and West of the Moon, which included a very well played bass solo from Pat Sprakes; and an upbeat Bossa Nova number, Duke Pearson’s Sandalia Dela, in which Wendy sung in Portugese, and drummer Steve Wyndham got to play an audience, pleasing extended solo to round off the first half of this two set show.

I got to speak to Wendy during the break and we discussed the difficulty bands like hers have in getting bookings, which in part is down to the number of small jazz clubs that are closing down due to lack of support financially and in terms of “bums on seats”. We also talked about how well her recent album release, The Music’s on Me, has been received, which, interestingly, has also sparked renewed interest in her previous album Piano Diva’s – if you haven’t heard this album do check it out, you will not be disappointed.


The second set featured four tunes from the album The Music’s on Me. The first was the album’s title track before moving on to the Don Grolnick tune Pools, to which Wendy had penned lyrics. For me, this was the standout number of the evening with Roger Beaujolais’ vibes playing evoking the shimmering heat of Spain – the source of the inspiration behind the lyrics.

Wes Montgomery’s West Coast Blues, with added lyrics written by Wendy and Pat, a number that various critics highlighted in their reviews of the album. Then came my album favourite, September Second, again with added lyrics. This tune was written by Michel Petrucciani and features on his 1991 album Playground. It is a beautiful tune and nothing is taken away from it by the addition of lyrics. The interplay between Wendy Kirkland and Roger Beaujolais was a joy to hear and another excellent bass solo from Pat Sprakes made the tune complete.

The evening finished with the Peggy Lee number I Love being here with You – a wonderful tune on which to bring the two sets to a close. The audience clearly enjoyed what they heard from this very good quartet and I am very pleased to have finally got to hear and see this very talented jazz musician, and her band, play live: thank you Wendy!

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