MICHELLE ASPELL QUARTET
8 November 2014
This was the sixth session to be held at the Angel Inn at Woolhampton, the pub on the A4 now offering jazz on the second Saturday of each month. Michelle Aspell functioned as leader and took care of the vocals backed by a sturdy rhythm section comprising Simon Cook on piano, Roger Mitchell on bass and Jim Wade at the drums.
They began with an instrumental version of The Girl From Ipanema and then Michelle Aspell came up to sing I Get A Kick Out of You, with a nice sense of swing and a voice that was smooth, warm and right on the beat. Her approach to standard songs was to bring out the best in the lyrics but not, like too many singers today, to belt out the words at high volume and a tone like dark, sticky treacle. To paraphrase a description of a famous jazz saxophonist, hers was not a big sound, or a small sound, but a round sound.
She managed a very acceptable ballad reading of Every Time We Say Goodbye, again concentrating on a smooth, lyrical rendition at medium volume and well supported by some tasty piano chords from Simon Cook and the bass and drums purring away softly behind her. She had a good swing on Sweet Georgia Brown with the trio filling in at the back and a valiant attempt at God Bless The Child, the old Billie Holiday song which invariably recalls the original to mind.
Simon Cook was impressive on keyboard where he frequently improvised fresh lines directly from the melodies being played, making for some intriguing solos. Anthropology was played up tempo with a bounce but I think the explanation given by Mitchell that composer Charlie Parker was interested in anthropology was somewhat unlikely. Parker's nickname was 'Bird' and that's the closest connection I'm aware of.
The programme was varied and interesting though with some good standard songs and the trio played an impressive instrumental version of Out Of Nowhere towards the end of the evening.
Jazz at the Angel continues with The Friends Quintet on Saturday 13th December.
This review is reproduced with the kind permission of the Newbury Weekly News, where it was first published.