Sue Richardson `Too Cool' show at Ronnie Scott's, London 19/5/13.
I went into this gig knowing nothing about Chet Baker, but Sue Richardson seemed to know everything there was to know. I found myself sitting next to a true jazz aficionado who had heard the Sue Richardson Quintet just a few weeks earlier in Eastbourne and tied in a trip to visit her mother with the Ronnie's gig to hear the same show again. Then she bought the CD!
Sue recounted Chet's musical and personal story in a light-hearted and engaging way, weaving the tale of his sorry life into the music. Much of it was written by Chet, but there were new compositions of her own, inspired by his music and his life. "Adored", written by Sue with Annette Keen, shines a gentle spotlight on Baker's relentless womanising. Another original, "On a Moon Beam" was written while in a service station. Has anything better ever come out of such a pit stop?
One of the things that made the concert special was that some original Baker songs - written in Italian while he was in prison there on drugs charges - had been translated for Sue. Hearing her sing them was just magical, her voice sometimes rich and deep, sometimes light as air. She has the ability to move effortlessly from playing the trumpet energetically and brilliantly on "Motivo Su Raggio Di Luna," to singing - somehow not even pausing for breath.
With musicians of such a high calibre it is cruel to single anyone out but Andy Drudy on guitar was a revelation. To share the experience of someone playing an instrument so beautifully, so masterfully and with such joy was truly magical.
And then there was Neal Richardson. He made me cry during his piano solo on Sue's arrangement of "My Funny Valentine". It was exquisite. And given the huge applause and queues for the CDs I can only believe that others were similarly impressed with this talented band.
Gill Newland NZ