SPICE OF LIFE

STEPHEN GRAHAM

The Backstage setting in the Spice of Life basement music room of the London pub just yards from Shaftesbury Avenue was a fitting place to hear former West End stage singer Claudia Morris continue her fast developing jazz career.

Singing songs from Twelve O Clock Tales, her latest album for the Warmfuzz label, she was appearing with a five piece band that included baritone sax player Alex Garnett who appeared with Claudia at her outdoor Jazz in the Park gig back in September,  although the band was mainly different.

 

On piano this time was Barry Green and in Green Morris may have found the pianist who suits her range and choice of tricky key signatures best. Their extended duo feature on a Leslie Bricusse song was quite superb, even on an upright piano that sounded as if it belonged more in a draughty rehearsal studio than a jazz club bandstand. But with a player such as Green the instrument could be completely out of tune and you'd still listen.

Morris, who appeared in the original highly successful West End production of jukebox musical Buddy, has a fine voice, smaller on the high notes which she invests with some controlled emotion and tender on the harder real-life lyrics. Her first set closed with 'Makin' Whoopee', the least successful choice but she knew how to handle Carole King's 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?', 'Surrey With The Fringe On Top' and 'Close Your Eyes', which really impressed along with the Bricusse.

 

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