When The Jazz Centre UK found out that Duncan Shoosmith’s painting of the legendary Dame Cleo Laine won Sky TV’s ‘Portrait Artist of the Year’ and was to hang within their art gallery, they decided to put together a “Dankworth Dynasty Day” on the 22nd June to celebrate. Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood will perform and unveil the painting, and there will also be Sir John Dankworth’s first piano and memorabilia from both Sir John and Dame Cleo on display in their heritage centre.
Jacqui Dankworth – daughter of Dame Cleo Laine and Sir John Dankworth – is fast becoming acknowledged as one of the UK’s foremost jazz vocalists. Though, as ‘The Sunday Times’ recently commented, Jacqui is rather more than that. Her incredible versatility makes her one of the finest singers, regardless of category.
Jacqui’s recent performance with her husband – the brilliant Memphis-born pianist and vocalist, Charlie Wood – at Henley-on-Thames’s intimate Kenton theatre very much confirmed Jacqui’s world class credentials. On this occasion Jacqui turned her attention to the most iconic female vocalists of the 20th century – and the singers who defined the ‘Great American Songbook’. These included Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Peggy Lee, Roberta Flack plus Cleo Laine! Charlie (Jacqui’s musical director) and Jacqui had arranged and curated a diverse repertoire for the concert which was a celebration of the ‘Jazz Sirens’ whose legacy has defined a classic era of jazz singing. Other standards and Broadway show tunes featured too.
Accompanied by Charlie plus Nic French on drums and Geoff Gascoyne on bass – both accomplished players who have worked with many music icons over the years, Jacqui provided an evening of brilliant, world-class entertainment. Her vocal range, versatility, tone and timing are simply superb – and this was one of those rare evenings when one felt privileged to see such an impressive performance, especially in a small and intimate venue like the Kenton. Jacqui has an easy, natural rapport with her audiences. And her understated, quietly amusing words of introduction to the songs in her set also added to the feeling of class – complementing her powerful singing perfectly.
Whatever genre of music you normally follow, I would strongly recommend seeing Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood while they continue their tour of UK venues.
11th March 2019
“Sweeter than wine” Sean Rafferty BBC Radio 3
THE HUGELY ANTICIPATED DEBUT RECORDING FROM BUTTERFLY’S WING
For this irresistible feast of songs, Grammy-Award-winning singer Jacqui Dankworth is joined by an all-star line-up: award-winning composer and jazz pianist David Gordon; Ben Davis, whose group Basquiat Strings have been Mercury-nominated; and Christian Garrick, widely recognised as the UK’s leading jazz violinist.
In 2002 David Gordon added the violin and cello strings of Garrick and Davis to his already established duo with Jacqui Dankworth to create the group Butterfly’s Wing.
Four fantastic musicians, a wonderfully transparent sound-world – by turns magical, witty, powerful – and a panoply of seductive rhythms, cutting-edge improvisation and lyrics, at once heart-rending, joyous and surreal. ‘Le Depart’ is the group’s first recording, available here, on Garrick’s Flying Blue Whale label.
It’s a tricky drive to Rhosygilwen from Fishguard (as the Irish would say, you’d better start from Cardigan), but it’s so welcoming once you’re there, and this heartwarming two-hander from Jacqui Dankworth and Craig Ogden was overwhelmingly rewarding.
Dankworth arrested us all at the opening with her moving Waly,Waly, her smoky mezzo-soprano delivering this timeless classic with such purity, Ogden’s guitar as attentive as a baroque continuo harpsichordist.
In fact so many of Ogden’s contributions to the duo evoked the textures of baroque or classical figurations, the mere six strings of his instrument coaxed into an almost infinite range of colours.
His accompaniments were amplified to match Dankworth’s soaring voice, but his guitar was allowed to speak on its own terms in two absorbing solo sets, including a Villa-Lobos Choros I authentic in so many respects, and Gary Ryan’s gimmicky and spectacular Rondo Rodeo.
Jacqui Dankworth brought a huge gamut of vocal techniques (only once tempted into a discreet scat) and breath-control — such magically-shaped conclusions! — to her offerings, which included Crazy, Bridge over Troubled Water, Moon River, and Rodgers and Hart’s It never entered my mind, all delivered with the subtlest of concluding inflections before the voice settled on the final note.
Wonderful performances; but for me, and I suspect for many others, the icing on the cake was the duo’s account of Marvin Hamlisch’s The Way We Were, delivered with the dignity of a heartbroken simplicity, reaching out to all of us in this packed audience.
In years to come, the audience privileged enough to enjoy singer Jacqui Dankworth and guitarist Craig Ogden at St George’s Guildhall may just say, “I was there when…”
The first Friday night concert of this year’s King’s Lynn Festival was as pared-down and as stripped back as anyone could wish for.
All that was needed was, in Dankworth, an acclaimed jazz singer of at least 25 years’ standing, and Ogden who first made friends with the guitar at the age of seven.
But anyone expecting a night of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong numbers were to be gently let down as, instead, Dankworth and Ogden took their audience on a tour of some of the greatest songwriters of the last 60 years.
Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, Burt Bacharach, Hal David and James Taylor all featured in songs, such as “The Water is Wide” (Taylor), Crazy (Nelson), A House Is Not a Home (Bacharach/David) and “It Never Entered My Mind” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, spellbindingly arranged by young guitarist James Girling.
Indeed Ogden described his protege at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, as a man who “improvises like a legend” “truly, disturbingly talented”.
However, the quality of singing and playing was harmonised with the genuine warmth of the two performers who pitched their spoken interludes between songs with gems such as “The Guildhall has always got a lovely, special atmosphere”, from Dankworth.
Ogden was given free rein to play two sets of melodies, one by pre-World War II Paraguayan guitarist Augustin Barrios and the other by Englishman Gary Ryan, before the two performers combined for an encore of Tom Waits’ “Ever Since I Put Your Picture In A Frame”.
This was a concert where the singing voice and stringed instrument spoke for themselves.
L-R: Paul Booth, Giorgio Serci, Jacqui Dankworth,
Daide Mantovani at Pizza Express (out of shot: Rod Youngs and Satin Singh). Photo supplied by Patchwork
Paul Booth’s Patchwork Project featuring Jacqui Dankworth Pizza Express Jazz Club, 29 August 2018. Review by Sebastian Maniura)
On a rather dull evening in Soho, Paul Booth’s Patchwork Project featuring vocalist Jacqui Dankworth created a warm and welcoming atmosphere with two diverse sets in the basement at Pizza Express. This talented group seamlessly glided through jazz, reggae, Celtic folk and more, making for an integrated and compelling performance. The night consisted of songs from Booth’s Patchwork Project Volume 1, released in 2015, and new material, some of which will doubtless be featured on Volume 2 when it appears… The 2015 album was a move by Booth to “explore what’s out there”. Taking suggestions from colleagues and fans on social media, it became something very different to anything Booth had previously released. The performance possessed the variety and vitality that the album was seeking to capture.
Playing flute, piano, tenor and soprano saxophones, Booth’s technical ability was striking. Songs such as Miles from Nowhere and Wye Aye saw him alternating between multiple different instruments, taking fast, intricate solos on sax and flute, then jumping onto the piano to accompany the rest of the band. He introduced the songs in an amiable manner, often explaining the background to his own compositions. Confident but unassuming, Booth made the audience relax into the evening and feel at home. Jacqui Dankworth’s voice was powerful and expressive. In There Was a Time and The Windmills of Your Mind, Dankworth explored the emotional range of the songs which, in turn, showed off her own expansive vocal ability. Guitarist Giorgio Serci, who often accompanied Dankworth during the calmer moments in the set, used both an electric and acoustic guitar to exhibit his full tonal palette. Alternating between dramatic flamenco inspired introductions and steaming blues inflected solos, Serci encapsulated each style in which he played. Similarly, Dankworth kept her own authentic sound, always respecting and honouring the style she was singing in but never pandering to, or caricaturing, it.
Laying it down at the back of the stage on kit, Rod Youngs was supremely tight and seriously funky whilst Satin Singh added texture on percussion, never overcrowding the songs. His simple yet effective patterns on tunes like Twitterbug Waltz and Bo Joegave space for Davide Mantovani’s ferocious runs and fills on bass, whilst keeping the groove consistent and effortless. In the more restrained songs, such as The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Red Rock, Youngs’ brush work was light and sensitive, keeping the groove sizzling below the surface. Playing both fretted and fretless bass, Mantovani locked in with Youngs perfectly on numbers like Pipe Dream. The round, warm, elastic tone of Mantovani’s fretless playing on There was a Time and Lemanja lent a lovely smooth rounded bottom end to the sound.
Drawing on multiple styles and influences without appearing contrived or rootless is a difficult thing to pull off. However, the band of sensitive and inspired musicians made sure that every twist and turn the music took hit the mark, feeling authentic and true. The uplifting final number, a cover of Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry, exhibited all that worked so well about the band. The joy with which they played together, the technical brilliance of the soloists and the power that such a sparse groove can have, easily made one forget the drab weather outside.
Paul Booth – Soprano and Tenor Saxophones, Flute and Piano
Jacqui Dankworth – Vocals
Giorgio Serci – Guitar
Rod Youngs – Drums
Davide Mantovani – Bass
Satin Singh – Percussion
It was unique and authentic and a programme full of dynamic and diverse music from four wonderful artists.
Jacqui and her three fellow musicians produced a concert full of subtle and sublime tracks from their brand new album Le Depart.
With Chris Garrick on piano and melodica, Christian Garrick on violin and Oliver Hayhurst on bass they rolled out an irresistible feast of modern jazz songs.
You could hear remnants of her mother Cleo’s voice in the silky Grammy-Award-winning singer’s repertoire which featured an array of tunes while the trio of musicians combined extraordinarily to feature their undoubted talents which were exemplified in the instrumental Celia.
Smooth and sophisticated they featured many tracks from the new album including Butterfly’s Wing, Angel Feet, The Bear, Just A Song, The Madman, The Knee and the amazing The Alchemist And The Catflap.
And they augmented those with their rendition of September Song and the amazing The Windmills of Your Mind.
Russell Cook 8th March, 2018
As evidenced by their opening track Two To Tango, the theme of jazz singer Jacqui Dankworth and her pianist, arranger, singer-songwriter and “not half bad husband” Charlie Wood’s excellent UK tour which rolled into Falkirk Town Hall on Thursday night is the art of collaboration.
And joining them onstage to celebrate great musical partnerships of the golden age of jazz and blues, the first half of which drew largely from their 2016 album Just You, Just Me, was the Brazilian-born but Scottish-based Mario Caribe on double bass and “probably the best drummer in the country” Tom Gordon.
Both of whom complimented the billed artists with an array of dazzling solos which left the “small, but perfectly formed” audience of Falkirk bairns (well, silver-haired citizens) in the spirit of the Simon and Garfunkel-penned closing number Feelin’ Groovy.
Dankworth’s crystal clear and pitch perfect voice unfurled like a roll of fine silk; effortless in delivery, meticulous in technique, which shone brightest in a sotto voce rendition of the bossa nova classic Corcovado aka Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars.
If she is the flickering flame which dances in the dark and catches the eye, Wood is more the glowing embers which warm the heart and stir the soul with a conversational and understated style, always one or two steps off the beat. His Randy Newman-cum-Ray Charles delivery at its best in the Sam & Dave soul ballad When Something Is Wrong With My Baby.
But the pinnacle of the evening, by a long shot, was their Romani-inspired interpretation of Michel Legrand’s The Windmills of Your Mind which began in the haunting manner in which it is traditionally delivered before shooting off in all directions like a box of fireworks through a series of hand clapping and tongue clacking gyrations, culminating in a hair-raising howl to the moon.
Their next port of call is The McMillan Theatre in Somerset on the 17 November followed by Lichfield Guildhall two days later. So if you are in either area and have yet to catch their tour, to quote from the opening track of their second set, hop aboard their “desert caravan” for a night as radiant as the “stars above that shine so bright”.
Peter Callaghan, 16th November 2017
To celebrate her extraordinary life and achievements, this programme brings together four living jazz musicians and the author of a recent biography to appraise Billie Holiday’s hectic life and jazz legacy through the prism of one historic 12-bar blues.
The song ‘Fine & Mellow’, which she wrote herself, was recorded in 1957 with an all-star backing band that included her friends Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Vic Dickenson, Roy Eldridge and Gerry Mulligan.
The programme is introduced by saxophonist Andy Sheppard, and also features expert commentaries from band leader Guy Barker, singers Cleo Laine and Jacqui Dankworth, and Julia Blackburn, author of ‘With Billie’.
Devised and produced by Tony Staveacre, for BBC Radio 4
Listen here: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05pn3t6
Jazz Voice- Opening Gala of the 2014 EFG London Jazz Festival by Peter Vacher
EFG London Jazz Festival opens with a wild weekend by Mike Flynn for Jazzwise Magazine
Jazz Voice: Paean to the art of the song gets EFG London Jazz Festival off to coruscating start by Peter Quinn for The Arts Desk
Charlie Wood will be giving a sneak preview of his upcoming CD “New Souvenirs” (co produced by Jacqui) on the 6th October, 2014 at The Crazy Coqs, Piccadilly. Tickets are limited so book now to avoid disappointment!
Jacqui will headline the national concert hall in Dublin on New Years Eve with the RTE Orchestra and big band. A sumptious programme of songs from the stage and screen conducted by Mike Dixon with arrangements by Charlie Wood. Concert starts at 22:00m.
“Her gentle shimmy and generous eye contact caused at least the male members of the audience to loosen their collars and settle their quivering wine glasses more firmly on the table.”
— Matthew Wright, The Arts Desk
Jazz Divas: Jacqui Dankworth
Songs from the Stage & Silver Screen with the Cadogan Swing Orchestra
Tuesday 16 April 7:30pm
Mike Dixon, Conductor
Charlie Wood, Arrangements
Jacqui Dankworth performs the first of four concerts featuring four unforgettable jazz voices at Cadogen Hall this spring. “One of the classiest acts in British jazz singing,” Jacqui Dankworth kicks off Cadogan Hall’s Jazz Diva series, performing a selection of popular songs from musicals and film soundtracks, in her own inimitable style.