When Joanna Eden and Chris Ingham appear together, they usually do a double act. Not this time. It was Joanna’s show, and what a wonderful show it was. She took us from the beginning of Ella Fitzgerald’s career to the end. She was backed by Chris on piano, Andres Lafone on bass and George Double on drums, a perfect trio to support the lady (“Ella’s fellas”).
Joanna had structured the programme beautifully. She opened with a blast, “Get Happy”, which Ella often opened with. She kept to the structure of Ella’s career. I did not know that she wrote the second verse to “Manhattan” to get her birthplace in (it’s Yonkers). Her early life was a mile less than a joy, so “Someone to Watch Over Me” was spot on with Joanna’s narrative.
And then “A-Tisket-A-Tasket”, a simple number based on an old nursery rhyme with a tune identical to that other children’s rhyme “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring”. This was Ella’s audition piece that won her first prize with a song at a dance contest and went on to become her breakthrough hit with the Chick Webb Orchestra in 1938.
Joanna’s story-telling was illuminating throughout the gig. Her singing was all we expected of her. She is a musician to the core, with phrasing, timbre and her presentation integral to the song she is presenting. That is a real joy.
She had songs with pairs and individuals from the trio. Chris is a superb accompanist. Andres is new to us: he is a terrific bassist, and his work with Joanna was lovely. A song with just George? Amazing.
Joanna told us that Ella fell in love with bebop, and actually took lessons from Dizzy Gillespie. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for those lessons! “ A Night in Tunisia” and “How High the Moon” gave Joanna space to scat, and she was excellent. Famously, while performing in West Berlin in 1960, Ella launched into a cover of “Mack The Knife”. She didn’t know the lyrics too well and midway through the song, she completely forgot them. When in doubt, what does a jazz singer do? Scat! Ella’s version went on to become a big Grammy-winning performance from her live album, Ella in Berlin, proving what an expert improviser she was.
It was a pleasure to see how our large audience hung on every note as they watched Joanna and the band with love and admiration. Every number was enthusiastically received; the murmurs of warm appreciation were clearly audible as she launched into “The Man I Love” at the end of the first set, “The Very Thought of You” and “Miss Otis Regrets” in the second set. It would be difficult and an unnecessary diversion to pick a favourite moment as the whole performance was seamless and went far too quickly before the audience were calling for an encore. Our band, generous as ever, obliged with the tear-jerking “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” – a fitting end to a wonderful evening’s performance.
On Wednesday 13 December, we get to hear the power of award winning saxophonist Ed Jones. He is joined by Ross Stanley on piano, Riaan Vosloo on bass and Tim Giles on drums. Ed raises the temperature whenever he solos. Do come.
Dave and Steve
JOANNA EDEN & THE CHRIS INGHAM TRIO: EMBRACEABLE ELLA
SETLIST, FLEECE JAZZ 21/11/23
1. Get Happy (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler)
2. Someone To Watch Over Me (George & Ira Gershwin)
3. Manhattan (Rodgers & Hart)
4. A-Tisket-A-Tasket (Traditional nursery rhyme extended by Ella Fitzgerald & Al Feldman
5. Caravan (Juan Tizol & Duke Ellington)
6. (If You Can’t Sing It) You’ll Have To Swing It (Mr Paganini) (Sam Coslow)
7. Desafinado (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
8. Sweet Georgia Brown (Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard & Kenneth Casey)
9. Winter Weather/I’ve Got My Love To Keep You Warm mash-up (Connee Boswell)/Irving Berlin)
10. The Man I Love (George & Ira Gershwin)
* * * * * * *
11. The Very Thought of You (Ray Noble)
12. A Night in Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespie)
13. The Midnight Sun originally an instrumental composed by Lionel Hampton & Sonny Burke. Lyrics were later added by Johnny Mercer.
14. Miss Otis Regrets (Cole Porter)
15. You Turn The Tables On Me (Louis Alter & Sidney D. Mitchell)
16. How High The Moon (Nancy Hamilton & Morgan Lewis)
17. Embraceable You (George & Ira Gershwin)
18. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (Frank Loesser)
19. Mack The Knife (Kurt Weill/ Bertolt Brecht)
ENCORE: Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye (Cole Porter)