IF Chris Ingham’s first performance of the year at The Crazy Coqs (Brasserie Zedel) in London’s Piccadilly is anything to go by, those who have bought tickets for his four shows at the same venue over the next month are in for a delicious treat.
Ingham is a master of the piano, but it’s his ability to narrate and engage the audience with pertinent anecdotes that stand him apart from the proverbial madding crowd.
On Wednesday, aided (quite brilliantly) by the fingers of Geoff Gascoyne on double bass and George Double on drums, Ingham took the audience on a journey through some of the wonderful music written by the late Dudley Moore.
Jazz that framed much of the 1960s for Moore before comedy, movie fame, Hollywood (remember Arthur and 10?) and women (four wives along the way) absorbed most of his time. Music primarily taken from Moore’s albums The Other Side of Dudley Moore (1965) and Bedazzled (1968) where he performed with Trio members Pete McGurk (double bass) and Chris Karan (drums).
Between the music, Ingham talked about Moore’s life with genuine affection, giving the listener a real insight into the complex world of a near genius. An individual born with two club feet, was short and physically uncomfortable, and was unloved while growing up in London’s Dagenham as a child. But despite all this and a jungle full of psychological demons, Moore was truly gifted as a musician – whether playing piano, violin, organ or writing jazz numbers.
Ingham started his set with Dudley Dell, the B-side of 1961 single Strictly For the Birds. A composition that provided the theme music for long-running Radio 4 quiz show Quote … Unquote, hosted by Nigel Rees who was in the audience to listen to it (he seemed impressed).
Other highlights included Poova Nova where Double and Gascoyne provided ‘soprano’ like vocal support– and the theme music Moore wrote for 1967 film Bedazzled that was directed by Stanley Donen and starred Moore, comedy partner Peter Cook and Raquel Welch. ‘One of Dudley’s masterpieces,’ said Ingham. Hard to disagree with him.
The Sad One For George – written in the aftermath of Moore running off with Lysie, wife of friend George Hastings – was as melancholic as Love Me was upbeat. The end of Moore’s purple patch as a jazz musician was marked by Song for Suzy, a hit in Australia in the early 1970s.
With Jay Rayner looking on in admiration (an accomplished musician himself and with performances coming up at The Crazy Coqs as the Jay Rayner Quartet), this was a special night about a special talent. Short in length, maybe. But then the irony of its brevity at some 80 minutes would not be lost on Dudley Moore if he were still around today.
Hoagy Carmichael, Stan Getz, Johnny Mercer and Richard Rodgers are all getting the Ingham ‘treatment’ in the coming week at The Crazy Coqs. Unmissable vignettes, I would say. History lessons as much as they are enjoyable musical experiences.
Title photo by Peter Davies