Review: Pamela Rose

The sound of a home counties “BRA-VEUH,” is to be heard every night at the opera, but is still very unfamiliar at jazz gigs. It must sound so awfully quaint to American ears. Pamela Rose, who brought her high-octane show “Wild Women of Song” from San Francisco to the Bull’s Head last night took the “bravo” she received gracefully, copied it, and seemed to savour it.

Rose and the four women who make up her band will have it as a nice memory of Barnes, and of the appreciative audience who came out to see them. Something to tell the folks back home about on the next gig in Sausalito, perhaps.

I caught the end of the gig. “Wild Women of Song” is a well-researched tribute to the American women singer-songwriters of jazz. Pamela Rose has unearthed songs by a number of them, tells their stories, salutes their courage and their achievements, and delivers their songs with energy and panache. There are visuals too. Old photographs on lilac wallpaper projected onto a screen, lists of their songs,a lot of information.

The songs I heard were a tribute to Kay Swift, composer of the 1930 musical Fine and Dandy. Her song “Can’t we be friends” was set in the context of – and may indeed allude to – the dilemmas of her own close and creative partnership with George Gershwin.

Ida Cox was the composer of the show’s closer “Wild Women,” a soulful number in which Pamela Rose revealed a remarkable voice which seems, at first hearing, to get ever stronger as it goes lower. Nice.

Rose has a lively, energetic and tight band. I found myself listening out for great kicks and prods coming from New York-based drummer Alison Miller , highly creative and fiery.

Ruth Davies had great presence on her travelling stick-bass , Kristen Strom plays a full-toned and melodical, invigorating tenor sax , and I would welcome another opportunity to hear the thoughtful, commanding piano playing of Tammy L Hall.

A very lively night, which finished with the whole happy Barnes audience on its feet.

Pamela Rose’s CD Wild Women of Song is on Three Handed Records

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