Ian Shaw gave a world class performance on Sunday night at the brand new JW3, Jewish community centre for London on Finchley Road. This was the first of a series of monthly top flight jazz concerts that will also feature Tina May, Lianne Carrol and Julian Joseph as part of a humungous programme of music, theatre, cinema, adult education, youth and family activity and much more in this beautiful building. Oh yes, and there is a rather fantastic cafe too - Zest (kosher), which just happens to be led by chefs Josh Katz and Eran Tibi - both of whom formerly worked at Ottelenghi (not kosher!).
But back to Mr. Shaw. He opened with an interesting arrangement of a potentially risky song choice - You've got to pick a pocket or two - Fagin's song from Oliver which received a polite response before things took off in a big way. Linking songs with humorous stories, confessions and reminiscences our Ian had us eating from his hand very quickly. There were a couple of numbers from his A Ghost in Every Bar album of Fran Landesmann's songs - Feet Do Your Stuff and Small Day Tomorrow, a witty version of Barbra Streisand's I Want Everything from the soundtrack of A Star is Born and another Babs favourite - the Michel Legrand composed What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life. His reference to Michel Legrand as Mickey Big made 'em laugh as did his story of demanding to sing at an Amsterdam jazz club despite being well oiled with beer, being refused and slurringly replying "I've won awards" before storming the stage and singing anyway!
He made us laugh but he almost made us cry when he moved from Harold Arlen's Last Night When We Were Young to a heartbreaking version of Amy Winehouse's Love Is A Losing Game. He manages to do this to me at least once in every gig! But there were other highlights too. A master of improvisation, I loved the insertion of the word "profoundly" into the Billie Holiday number Lover Man Where Can You Be..."when I remember all the little things we used to do, I am so profoundly lonely". Oh yes. And this too was cleverly linked to another Billie standard -What's New.
Ian Shaw is one of the few jazz singers that can easily turn from jazz standards to what might be termed contemporary music and he did it again here including his version of Where Are We Now, a David Bowie song from his most recent album - still holding the audience. I liked this too, but the absolute highlight for me was Ian's reading of A Night In Tunisia during the second set. Soaring vocals, gorgeous improvisation and a stonking piano performance (throughout the gig!) from Barry Green. Ian - please record this! The trio was completed by Geoff Gascoyne on double bass and Dave Ohm on drums - both excellent.
You might also like Anat Cohen live at Pizza Express or Nicola Conte - more than entertainment at Ronnie Scott's