Review: the Luke Richardson Trio at Swing Unlimited Jazz Club

What better way to warm your cockles on a cold February evening than with some hot contemporary jazz, so I mooched over to the Swing Unlimited Jazz Club at Centre Stage. Jazz does not come younger, fresher or hotter than three of the south’s finest looking young jazz musicians named the Luke Richardson Trio, and one beautiful chanteuse, Louise Victoria.

Two hour-long sets gently eased the chill with covers and original songs by Luke Richardson, leading his band on keyboard. His ‘house’ style is very relaxed, lending a laid back 60s/70s vibes feel to his playing. Complementing the sound on double bass and playing a funky bass guitar on some numbers was Robin Pearkes.  Drummer James Ashdown was a superb timekeeper and full of surprises, using tom toms, sticks and brushes to accentuate every changing mood of the music.  And how wonderful to hear young singer Louise Victoria’s deep soulful contralto on Richardson’s stunningly unique arrangement of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess standard Summertime. Also a treat for the audience was her thrilling scatting on numbers including You and the Night and the Music (Schwartz/ Dietz). Her scat singing really sets her apart, daring comparison with the technical genius and perfection of Ella Fitzgerald or the swooping notes of a young Cleo Laine. Yet Louise Victoria has her own voice, gentle, seductive and youthful and she has the confidence and ability to use it sparingly.

Jazz is about giving musical life to stories and this was demonstrated in Richardson’s arrangements of Ballad of Chet Kincaird by Branford Marsalis and several Gretchen Parlato songs, like Me and You. Somehow, though, the highlights were the original Luke Richardson compositions. Crushed described the not-so-smooth path of his first love – he the Johnny Dankworth to Louise Victoria’s Cleo Laine.

The Luke Richardson Trio proved themselves to be very tuneful and technically excellent young players, and some uptempo Latin grooves could have spiced up the sets with a dash of peri-peri sauce.  But the audience at Swing Unlimited Jazz Club were an attentive crowd, taking solace from the bitter world outside in great music, company and the comforting ambience at Centre Stage. For the Luke Richardson Trio the audience stayed appreciative to the last note of the finale, a Michael Parkinson theme-type pastiche called No Hard Feelings. There weren’t any!

See you next Wednesday at Centre Stage for the Swing Unlimited Big Band, presenting a Valentine’s Eve (13th) show, called Valentine’s Love & Memories, featuring Anthony Bygraves (son of Bournemouth’s own Max) in a tribute to his dad. With the great music of Count Basie, Blues Brothers, Sinatra, Chet Baker and more promised, I truly can’t wait. See you there, but if you haven’t bought your tickets yet, be quick, as I understand they’re down to the last few available. (To book, call Catherine on 07771267445.)

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