Clare Teal at The New Wolsey

Ipswich Jazz Festival: Opening Night 19/6/15

The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich.

Clare Teal and her Trio featuring Jason Rebello (Piano), Simon Little (Bass), Matt Skelton, (Drums).

An unusual chilly wind whipped around the New Wolsey Theatre last night: thank goodness for the packed Foyer for a bit of collective Jazz warmth. The opening gig of the newly landed Ipswich Jazz Festival, sponsored and supported by the evergreen Fleece Jazz, was anticipated with a great deal of cheer and buzz. The packed house settled, and every one of us leant forward and listened with baited breath.

Clare took to the stage in joyous welcoming mood: always charming and personable. She`s the kind of jazz musician who oozes confidence and musicality: her vocal skill easy and laid back, full of colour, emotion, swing and fun. She blends beautifully with her world class trio: you get the whole experience with Clare. She sings with verve and delivers a performance that is entertaining and informed. If you knew very little about jazz, Clare takes you by the hand and leads you to very heart of this complex art form.

Mixing genres of popular music is smooth and unrushed: no urgency here: sweet, unrushed ballads, and super swinging grooving numbers, superbly demonstrated in a cracking version of ‘Just one of those Things’. Jason Rebello on piano is truly world class: gifted and quirky, but with a jazz language we should all learn. Simon Little sits, on Bass, just in the ‘right’ place, and lends a great deal to the overall evenings entertainment side of the gig: all complimented by the unfussy, spot on drumming from Matt Skelton.

Stand out musical moments of the evening must include Clare’s admiration and tribute to the evergreen Doris Days favourite ‘Secret Love’, the charmingly moving ‘Folks Who Live on the Hill’ from the pen of the glorious Peggy Lee. Stand out chatty moments include Clare’s version of ‘What did you have for your tea?’ : a comical and affable snapshot of life as a working jazz musician on the road, and her sharing the background behind her recent musical collaboration with the recently honoured Sir Van Morrison: marvellous!

Clare is such a great Ambassador for Jazz music, and quite rightly, encouraged all of us to ‘keep it live and keep it jazz’. Her Radio 2 Big Band programme goes from strength to strength, and all are welcome.

Come back soon Clare; if the applause offered by the audience is anything to go by, you have a secure and warm place in the hearts of us all in Suffolk…. Oh and there`s always the ‘special gin’ to entice you back with!