Review: Jeremy Sassoon – Ray Charles Revue

Jeremy Sassoon – Ray Charles Revue
(Ronnie Scott’s, 11th August. Review By Sarah Ellen Hughes)

Sipping a mint julep, former Psychiatric Doctor Jeremy Sassoon coolly opened an exhilarating set paying tribute to the music of Ray Charles, his debut at Ronnie Scott’s. A compilation of hits and lesser-known tunes, Sassoon and his band presented a well-arranged, well-executed 80 minutes of music. Many of the arrangements came from jazz saxophone master Iain Dixon, making the most of the stars of the band: Winston Rollins on trombone, Martin Shaw on trumpet and the superb Mike Smith on drums.

And not forgetting of course, “Ray Charles” himself, Jeremy Sassoon. There’s no doubting from where Sassoon draws his inspiration – whether consciously or sub-consciously, he rocks on the piano stool while playing, head whipping from side to side, getting into the groove of the music.

Sassoon is a charming and witty front-man, one of his skills being that he can make the audience feel immediately at ease, and can almost relate to the crowd on a personal level. Such an atmosphere made the sold-out crowd – presumably brimming with Ray Charles fans – applaud wildly for each tune and soak up the infectious feel-good vibe.

Vocally, the highlights were a raw, aching You Don’t Know Me, and Bye Bye Love, with spot-on backing vocals from Annabel Williams, Tor Hills and LaDonna Harley-Peters.

The Ray Charles Revue certainly has longevity, as a sold out Saturday night crowd will testify, but Sassoon is also a skilled writer, and is showcasing a number of new compositions at the JazzFM discovery show in September. Recommended listening.

Categories: miscellaneous

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