The Beverely Beirne Quintet brought their very good album Jazz Just Wants to Have Fun to the Marsden Jazz Festival in Yorkshire. So lets start with the line-up: Beverley Beirne is the band leader and vocalist; Rob Hughes played sax and flute; John Crawford was at the piano; behind the double bass was Flo Moore and behind the drum kit, Matt Parkinson.
The first set was made up entirely of tracks from the album Jazz Just Wants to Have Fun, which, deservedly, received great reviews in the jazz press and from this blog. Most of the tunes were written in the ’80s with the exception of Slade’s Cum on Feel the Noize, which was released in 1973. The one thing that all these tunes have in common is that the jazz arrangements, by Beverley Beirne and the album’s pianist Sam Watts, are superb!
We heard songs originally released by the likes of Adam Ant, The Specials, Right Said Fred, ABC, and Bananarama. The musicianship throughout was excellent, Beverley’s rapport with the audience was light, witty and enthusiastic – she clearly enjoyed the originals growing up and for many in the audience this would be taking them back to the music that they too grew up with.
The second set opened with Blondie’s Call Me – there is something about this song that jazz vocalists like, Lea Delaria also covered this song on her album Double Standards (well worth a listen) – which is not on the album. This was followed by Hot in the City, which featured a terrific piano solo from John Crawford (I will be looking in to his own music at a later date) with the bass of Flo Moore cutting through: the audience loved this one.
Jazz Just Wants to Have Fun was released in 2018 and at the time of recording a second album was also recorded. The new album, Dream Dancer, is to be released next year and the next tune played, David Bowie’s Lets Dance,will feature on this album. As for hearing it for the first time, I will not surprised if this turns out to be the standout track on Dream Dancer as Beverley Beirne’s vocals were terrific.
In this second set we heard tunes from Madonna, Katrina and the Waves, Foreigner and U2. As with the first set the songs stood up well to the jazz treatment and the playing was first class. John Crawford’s piano solo on Where the Streets Have no Name and Rob Hughs’ sax solo on Material Girl deserve a mention, as does Matt Parkinson’s drumming throughout. However, for me, the bass player Flo Moore (a recent graduate of the Royal Academy of Music in London) needs to be noted: her playing was an absolute joy to listen to and her solo work was some of the best I have heard live – and credit must be given to Beverley for giving the space for her musicians to shine.
Old Brazil is a song that Beverley Beirne got to work with the late Duncan Lamont on, with Duncan Writing the lyrics. This was a beautifully crafted song, very well played and sung. I was fortunate enough to meet Beverley after the gig and told her that, in my opinion, this song deserves to become a jazz vocal standard in time; I guess we will just have to wait for the new album next year to see whether others agree with me.
The set finished with, of course, Cyndi Lauper’s Girls [Jazz] Just Want to Have Fun, a fitting end to two marvellous sets in which Beverley and her band looked like they were, indeed, having fun.