JVC Jazz Festival: A class act scores the winning goal

Carmen Lundy, Mezzo; Mark Murphy, Pizza Express Jazz Club

Until they start programming lounge acts in the concourse of Paddington station, Mezzo has the field - and it's a very big field - all to itself. With tonight's stage plonked right at the bottom of the grand Hollywood entrance staircase, and an audience of suits straight out of Central Casting (looking like little stick-men in architects drawings), this was the jazz venue as designed by Piranesi.

Poor old Carmen Lundy, one thought, as she took the stage and her face began to register the first of several increasingly alarmed expressions. First she blinked unbelievingly; then she stared out from beneath her hand like a ship's captain looking for a sign of land; then she blinked again and rubbed her eyes as if the sight before her might yet be an apparition. Then, manfully, she shrugged and got on with it. What a trouper!

With her dyed blonde crop, and an ensemble of feather boa-fringed top and PVC flares (like waders worn upside-down) cloaking her tall, thin frame, Lundy looked a little like the footballer Stan Collymore out for a night of avant-garde clubbing, if, admittedly, marginally more likely to score a goal. Backed by a quartet with a keyboardist prone to some John Shuttleworth-style synth effects (but with the excellent Winston Clifford on drums), she gave it her best shot, despite the shortcomings of the venue.

In a jazz scene where female vocalists are something akin to a genre (like the Western but with even fewer variations of narrative and style), Lundy is a class act. Her voice can ululate like Adelaide Hall on "Creole Love Call", soar like Cleo Laine or Sarah Vaughn, and drop as low as a baritone when it needs to. Mezzo 2, Lundy 3 would be fair summary of the outcome, with several complaints to the groundsman outstanding.

By contrast, the Pizza Express Jazz Club round the corner seemed a veritable oasis of good taste and understatement; as sympathetic as one always imagines clubs with names like Birdland, Minton's and Cafe Bohemia to have been. It is dark and small, and the staff pad silently around the action like vergers in a church, though they occasionally put a little swing in their step in time to the music.

Another American singer, Mark Murphy, was in residence. His style is more distinctive than Miss Lundy's, but far more eccentric, too. While Lundy ululates occasionally, Murphy gets close to yodelling most of the time, and his microphone technique (akin to a lasso trick) produces an extraordinary tremolo effect, rather as if he was going underwater for every other note. But the sound of his voice is big and warm, and while at times his manic attack reminded one of Leslie Neilson doing his cabaret routine in Police Squad, Murphy's urgency and swing win you over in the end. When the last song comes, he does another, and another, and you began to contemplate the nightmarish possibility of being left in the club all night in his company. But then you think of Mezzo and relax.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?