Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Summer is finally here

Naadia Sheriff (piano), Juliet Kelly (vocals) and Amy Baldwin (bass)
with the songs of Nina Simone at Ipswich Jazz Club

Summer is finally here in the UK!  It took a while to appear but I'm really enjoying these warm, sunny days.

Since my last post, we had a great gig at Ipswich Jazz Club with the songs of Nina Simone, and I also did a short rural tour for Live & Local with my Bond to Bowie show. 

At the end of this month I'm really looking forward to performing again at Ronnie Scott's.  I think it's been seven years since I did my first and only performance there with the late Frank Holder.  This time I'll be performing the early set (6.15-7pm) before Courtney Pine and his House of Legends!  It's been fifteen years since I first performed with Courtney at the Barbican for the BBC4 TV show Jazz Britannia.  Looking forward to sharing the stage with him once again.  I'll be singing the songs of Nina Simone before his first set so you'll need to book the 17:30 show (first house).  Hope to see some of you there!

Tues 30 & Weds 31 Jul,  5.30pm - Ronnie Scott's Club, London

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Happy Spring!

The Austerity Playbook at Hoxton Hall
Spring is finally here!  I tend to go into hibernation mode during the winter and am so glad that we've officially crossed the threshold and summer isn't too far away.  :)

So, things have been pretty quiet.  Being part of the satirical jazz musical, The Austerity Playbook, with was a blast!  It was an absolute whirlwind of learning, rehearsals and finally the performance but I had so much fun working with the other singers and it all came together in the end.   There were no diva dresses or fascinators for me this time.  Felt strange to be on stage in drab clothes but it was part of my persona as a librarian.  Note the glasses for added authenticity!

Last month I made a return to Ipswich Jazz Club with my Nina Simone show.  It was almost exactly 3 years since my previous visit.  How time flies!  The audience loved the show and it was fun to perform those beautiful songs again.

This week I'm back on the rural road with Bond to Bowie in Leicestershire and Lincolnshire. 

Fri 5 April - Toynton Village Hall, Spilsby
Sat 6 April - North Thoresby Village Hall, Grimsby
Sun 7 April - Winthorpe Community Centre, Newark

And I've started writing again!  It's been a while but hoping to have some new songs ready very soon. 

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Happy New You!

Jazz Carols at Methodist Central Hall Westminster

I've never been a huge fan of New Year's resolutions and I'm not going to start now.  I believe in New Day's resolutions.  :D  Every morning we can set the reset button and plan to make the changes we want in our lives.  As well as planning the changes, we also need to actually carry them out (that's normally where I get stuck!) but I'm working on it...

I had my first ever experience of working with a choir for the Hull Jazz Festival in November.  The Hull Junior Choir sang beautifully and it was wonderful to hear them sing backing vocals to my original song Little Things from Spellbound Stories.  A really highlight of the year!

Hull Jazz Festival 2018 poster 

Albemarle Music Centre - venue for the concert with Hull Junior Choir

And then I had another chance to share the stage with some great gospel singers for the Jazz Carols concert at Westminster Central Hall with the Dan Forshaw Quartet.  I love singing in a group and our harmonies we sang for Silent Night (arranged by German saxophonist Birgitta Flick) really was magical - sent chills up my spine!  And I also got to meet Songs of Praise and ex-Blue Peter Presenter Diane Louise Jordan who presented the concert.  A lovely woman!

Jazz Carols poster

After the concert with the lovely Diane Louise Jordan

And it's not stopping there because I'll be singing with 3 other wonderful singers for the new jazz recital performance of The Austerity Playbook making its London debut on 18 January at Hoxton Hall.  Some great music written by Andrea Vicari to lyrics about the austerity measures in the UK through the decades.  Maybe I'll see some of you there.

Happy New Year, Happy New You!

Friday, 28 September 2018

It's great (not grim) up north!

Performing at Gala Theatre, Durham (photo by Malcolm Sinclair)

Love performing up north!  The audiences are always so warm and friendly.  And they definitely lived up to my expectations in Durham and Gosforth.  Even better, our gig at Gala Theatre in Durham was completely sold out and we had to turn people away at the door.  Although our audience at Gosforth Civic Centre was smaller, they definitely made up for it with their energy and enthusiasm!

I travelled up by train from London, did two gigs (Durham and Gosforth) and then took the train back that same evening.  Phew!  It was definitely worth it though. :)  Here's a link to a lovely review:

Then the following week I performed as part of an all-star line up for E15 Jazz Sessions at Stratford Circus.  Another well attended gig that was a huge success.  It's so great to see people turning out for live music.  Long may it continue!

Next week I'm back on the rural road through Live & Local with my Bond to Bowie show.  So looking forward to singing those lovely songs again and talking about the movies, television and shows I love.  Later in the month I'll performing Divas of Jazz for my debut appearance at Chichester Jazz Club with special guest Tommaso Starace on sax.  Can't wait!

Thu 4 Oct, 7.30pm -Rolleston Village Hall, Staythorpe Road, Rolleston NG23 5SG
Fri 5 Oct, 7.30pm - Thorpe Astley Community Centre, Lakin Drive, Leicester LE3 3RU
Sat 6 Oct, 7.30pm - Ashton under Hill Village Hall, Elmley Road, Ashton under Hill, Evesham, WR11 7SW
Fri 19 Oct, 7.45pm - Chichester Jazz Club, Pallant Suite, 7 S Pallant, Chichester PO19 1SY

Friday, 20 July 2018

Divas of Jazz is back!

Although I suppose I'm known for writing and performing my own songs, I LOVE the classic standards.   So am very pleased to announce that Divas of Jazz is back this Autumn!

We'll be celebrating the great jazz vocalists and performing the songs of Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and more.

Fri 27 Jul, 7-8.30pm - Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood Street, London W1F 7ED
Fri 14 Sep, 1-2pm - Gala Theatre, 1 Millennium Place, Town Centre, Durham  DH1 1WA
Fri 14 Sep, 5-6pm - Gosforth Civic Theatre, Regent Farm Road, Gosforth  NE3 3HD
Tue 18 Sep, 2-3pm - Forest Arts Centre, Hawbush Road, Walsall  WS3 1AG 
Fri 19 Oct, 7.45pm - Chichester Jazz Club, Pallant Suite, 7 South Pallant, Chichester, PO19 1SY

There are also some possible dates on the horizon in Kiev and Odessa (Ukraine).  Looking forward to singing those beautiful songs and telling those wonderful stories once more.  :)

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Planes, trains and automobiles

Uzhhorod Castle

Ukraine was a whirlwind. One train journey, two tube rides, two long car journeys and five flights! The concerts went very well and also got a chance to do some sightseeing in the beautiful city of Uzhhorod. It was also nice to revisit Odessa. Not so nice, was the snow! :( Unfortunately I didn’t bring my snow boots so wasn’t able to get around much but at least I have the memories of looking around the city in my first visit there at the end of 2016.

Map showing Uzhhorod's history
The city of Uzhhorod has an extremely complicated and storied history.  It's belonged to several different countries since its birth (including Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union) and although currently part of Ukraine it is only 20km away from the border with Hungary.  There is no longer a working airport so I flew into Hungary and drove across the border (an experience in itself!) and was surprised to learn that many people living there speak Hungarian rather than Ukranian.  Perhaps because of this history, the people are very warm and welcoming and there is a definite cosmopolitan air about the place.

Poster advertising concert outside Ilko Gallery

When I visited Ilko Gallery during the day I saw some interesting art by Pavlo Kerestey 
And then it was transformed that night into a concert venue!

It was a pleasure to perform with Ukranian musicians - Alexey Petuhov Trio

Although the concert was already sold out, more people turned up on the night and they put out extra chairs for an audience that numbered well over the usual 250 capacity.  And I felt especially honoured to received a standing ovation at the end of the night. :)

The trip to Odessa was pretty gruelling - including a 2 hour wait at the border and 2 flights - so we will gloss over that.  Perron No7 jazz club was a wonderful, quirky space with a dedicated jazz audience.  It was lovely to play for such a knowledgeable and discerning audience and I was bowled over by the fact that the owners had created a special cocktail menu for the evening based on the names of my songs!!!   Of course it would have been rude not to, so I sampled a couple of them.  I tried "One More Dance" (inspired by my song from Spellbound Stories) and Delicious (from Delicious Chemistry).  As a lover of cocktails,  it took all my willpower not to try all six of them!

Cocktail menu at Perron No7 jazz club with drinks based on my songs including one called Delicious - and it was!

Here I am in Uzhhorod.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Goodbye UK, Hello Ukraine!

Uzhhorod Cathedral

Just for a few days I'll be visiting the picturesque city of Uzhhorod in Western Ukraine and then I'll be making my way through the beautiful, mountainous scenery to revisit historic Odessa.  So looking forward to being back there.  Spent a wonderful New Year's Eve there at an amazing hotel back in 2016.  I'm a little worried about the cold and so will have to make sure to pack my thermals.

The two performances are taking place at ILKO Gallery and then at jazz club Perron No7.  Both gigs are totally sold out and am told they have a jazz hungry audience there so very much looking forward to performing for them with a great local trio led by Alexey Petuhov.

Back in the UK I have gigs coming up in the spring at Royal Albert Hall (as part of their Women and the Hall series), Birmingham Jazz and The Stables in Milton Keynes. 

I'm also working hard on setting up a UK tour for the Autumn with my new project.  I have a feeling it's going to be a very good year. :)