Barb Jungr at East Grinstead Jazz Club

Tuesday, 5th April, had me travel to the market town of East Grinstead and its Jazz Club at The Chequer Mead Theatre. The sat nav took me through some stunning scenery of West Sussex to get there and via an empty motorway system to get me home again. Between the two journeys I had the most wonderful time in the company of Jazz Club host and singer Jenny Green and vocalist Barb Jungr with her keyboard player Dr Adrian York and bass player Dudley Phillips.

The evening opened with York and Phillips playing Miles Davis’ ‘Solar’ before Jenny Green joined them for four numbers: ‘Let’s Fall in Love’, gently swinging with good phrasing from Jenny; ‘A Touch of Your Love’, from Jenny’s debut album You Turn the Tables on Me, delivered in a bossa nova style with a good bass solo; ‘Stand by Me’, the Ben E King classic, with good jazz keyboard playing from Adrian, and actively encouraged audience participation; finally came the Burt Bacharach number ‘The Look of Love’, which was very well sung by Jenny with excellent phrasing and very good backing from York and Phillips.

Barb Junger then took to the stage and got things underway with the Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim number from West Side Story ‘Something’s Coming’. The interpretation was sublime and the tone and phrasing of Barb Jungr’s vocals terrific. If this was an example of what we had in store for the rest of the evening, then what a very good evening it was going to be.

Most of the material sung by Barb Jungr was written by either Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan but we did also get to hear something from pens of Joni Mitchell, Steve Goodman, and Ray Davies. Many of the tunes are very well known and an artist “plays” with them knowing that fans of the original may not greet the interpretation with enthusiasm. In the case of this evening’s performance what stood out for me was that the strength of the lyrics became more pronounced when sung by a vocalist who has a real feel for what has been penned.

I delighted in how Barb put her chosen material across, her tone, her diction, the use of light and shade, and her phrasing! She sang, she scatted, she spoke, and she played harmonica. Barb told appropriate anecdotes, brought her own personal experiences into the songs and, above all, made us believe in the lyrics being sung. All of this was aided by strong backing from Dr Adrian York (who did some of the arrangements) and Dudley Phillips making for a most listenable trio.

The evening was brought to a close with Jenny Green and Barb Jungr duetting on ‘Black Coffee’ with a commentary on the dated middle eight section concerning “tending ovens”. Like much of what was said between, and sometimes during, songs the commentary was very well received by an audience firmly in the palms of singer Barb Jungr. I left Jenny Green and her East Grinstead Jazz Club musically sated by the performance of Barb Jungr, Dr Adrian York, Dudley Phillips and Jenny Green and I look forward to listening to more of Barb Jungr’s song interpretations on one of a number of CDs picked-up at the end of a most enjoyable evening.

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