Jazz legend Jacqui Dankwork
28 Jul 2014
Opening this year’s Cambridge Summer Music Festival, Jazz aristocracy Jacqui Dankworth and her musicians performed a thrilling concert, filling the formal chamber in The Guildhall with sophisticated jazz and truly gorgeous vocals.
On a hot night, even hotter sounds created a stunning start to the 28 July-2 August festival.
Dankworth’s delivery is lyrical lovely and at all times under control. Never for a moment does the audience feel fearful that her ambitious scales, her daring arpeggios and her jazz range will fail. Add a warm personality and modest demeanour and gorgeous looks and the package is compelling. For an hour and a half the audience were in the hands of a consummate professional but one with soul, with skill and with the kind of voice that lives on long after the concert is over.
Dankworth’s father was Johnny, later John, Dankworth and her mother the memorable Cleo Laine. With parents like this, legends in their time, there is a high probability any child will want to follow the musical path. But with the best will in the world, and the keenest of ambition, the result is often a pale reflection of the parents’ stardom. Try as they might, and talented in their own way, the children of famous stars often struggle to match the glory their parents created. John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, even David Bowie, have sons who have taken to the stage but with little of the success of the senior rockers.
Dankworth is different. She is clearly an outstanding musician in her own right and she gave the audience a thrilling repertoire to prove it.
The Mayor’s Concert traditionally marked the official beginning of a long week of high level musical events in the city. Dankworth began the evening with a classic, ‘Baubles, bangles and beads’, and moved on to her own composition, a love song to her keyboard accompanist, duettist and husband Charlie Wood. Next was an outstanding version of Cole Porter’s ‘In the still of the night’. In fact with her perfect diction and breathtaking vocal control, Dankworth turned this familiar song into a lament of loneliness. She is a consummate scene setter. Suddenly the audience could feel the sadness of someone alone in their room, wondering whether at heart they are truly loved. A trademark of Dankworth’s settings of songs is her brilliant endings. Melodies soften and then almost imperceptibly vanish into the deep thoughtful silence her wonderful performance creates.
Quirky moments during the evening included Dankworth telling the audience her father had composed the theme music for Tomorrow’s World, the 30 year long running science show on BBC1. She announced she had written some lyrics but confessed that nuclear physics was not her area of expertise. ‘Is there a particle physician in the House?’ she joked. Of course, as it was Cambridge at a gig organized by the Modern Jazz Club a couple of people raised a hand. She sang it anyway.
The voice is wonderful, ‘I think she’s better than her mum,’ murmured a smitten fan as the audience left and others agreed. Dankworth has talent plus.
Click here to discover the full list of concerts for the 2014 Cambridge Summer Music Festival