I have to put my hand up and admit that I’m not a big fan of jazz singers. Sure, I’m a big fan of Sinatra, Bennett, Ella & Louis, etc. but I prefer my jazz vocal free. Joining friends to see Joe Stilgoe and Liane Carroll – both singer/pianists – at Soho’s Pizza Express wouldn’t therefore be my first choice for a gig. But I try to keep an open mind and went along.
The gig was part of the Steinway Festival 2016, so it wasn’t a surprise to see that two Steinway grand pianos (together worth a whopping £150k) were awaiting the performers. The gig was also the first time the two had played together, which isn’t surprising given they’re both singer/pianists.
Kicking off the show was Liane Carroll (and by which time I’d polished off my pizza!). It didn’t take me long to be won over. The husky, blues-inflected tones were a perfect complement to her command of the Steinway. Stilgoe (son of Richard, in case you were wondering) joined Carroll, evincing Cullum/Buble/Sinatra vocals – no bad thing in my book, and as much command of the piano. The night wasn’t a strict jazz set, which made a refreshing change. Stilgoe and Carroll, share a love of Carole King and one of the evening’s highlights was a version of King’s ‘Will you still love me tomorrow’ that segued into John Lennon’s ‘Jealous guy’ – with the two performers playing musical ping-pong. What with Stilgoe’s wit, Carroll’s border-line irrevence, nods to the Eastender’s and Bullseye theme tunes and more than enough musicality to shake a stick at, it was a great night and I’m very glad I went along.
This gig was the perfect example of why people need to get out and see live music. A CD or download will never capture the magic of a live performance such as this one.