Jacqui Dankworth at the Pizza Express (18th-20th Sep)

A copy of Jacqui Dankworth’s new album Back to You (Audacious) landed with me prior to its release next Monday September 7th, and leads me to put these forthcoming gigs at the Pizza Express on the recommended list.

Jacqui Dankworth has a really appealing calmness and a confidence on this album. In fact the songs on the album mostly deal with themes of where that confidence and solace come from – eg reliable friends, the value of experience.

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Quite a few of the songs hang around agreeably in a laid back core tempo. But Jacqui Dankworth has now been working with pianist/arranger Malcolm Edmonstone by my calculation for about four years, and you can rely on Edmonstone always to have an interesting and unexpected harmonic trick up his sleeve. E.g. the ordering of keys of ther first four songs in similar tempo is clever and gives subtle displacement…G, F, E, B (Talking of sleeves, the cover of this CD really didn’t do much for me…)

But Jacqui Dankworth can both tell a story and float a melodic line with subtlety,grace and superb vocal control. For example there are quiet excursions up into the head-voice, and every one of these is a joy to hear. The album also has some clever multi-tracked backing vocals. It’s nicely recorded, and there are a couple of gems. John Fordham in his review singled out the lightness of touch in Ralph Towner’s Beppo, with guitarist Chris Allard on stunning form both laying down the groove and soloing. The song is an up-tempo encouragement to get up and move. and it worked for me too.

I also found that I really responded to the other long track (over six minutes, none of the others go over five minutes, Sting’s I was brought back to my senses, in which, after a slow introduction, electric bassist Dudley Phillips nails an infectious groove in 7-time with a subtlety, a strength and a consistency which have made my week.

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