Esther Bennett – Live Music Review

JAZZ saxophonist Duncan Lamont died in July 2019, two days before his 88th birthday and hours after performing at the 606 Jazz Club in London’s Chelsea.

Lamont was a brilliant song writer and loved  to write about his musical heroes – the likes of Charlie Parker, Billie Holliday, Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

Thankfully, Lamont lives on – in his music (mighty songs such as I Told You So, made famous by Natalie Cole); his son Duncan Lamont Junior  (a mighty fine saxophonist himself); and Jazz songstress Esther Bennett who worked with Lamont up until his death – and has stoutly carried a torch for Lamont’s music ever since.

At Pizza Express Live in London’s Soho on Monday night (February 7), Bennett continued to shine a bright light on Lamont’s music, assisted by Lamont Junior on saxophone and flute – and the crisp vocals of Daniela Clynes.

Supported by an accomplished band in Steve Taylor (drums), Richard Sadler (bass), Matt Hodge (percussion) and the peerless Terence Collie on piano, Bennett and Clynes did Lamont senior proud (I hope he was listening from upon high).

Photo by Monica Jakubowska 

Apart from I Told You So (infused with a big dose of Lamont’s sublime sax), we were treated to enjoyable versions of Edward E and William B (a tribute to Ellington and Basie), Billie Holliday, and a pared back version of Manhattan In The Rain (delivered by an impeccable Clynes).

Other treats included The Apartment (sung with feeling by Clynes), Pretty People (Bennett), There Ain’t Nothing  Like The Blues (Bennett) and a jolly A Great Day In Harlem with both Bennett and Clynes on vocals. Maybe they should have sung more together – they create an energy that they don’t have on their own.

The night wasn’t focused entirely on Duncan Lamont. Bennett proved that she can write some good lyrics – as demonstrated on a groovy Wandering Lost and Please (Save Me), a song about the (bad) choices you make in your late 30s. She also produced a tender cover of Janis Ian’s 1970s hit, At Seventeen.

Bennett gives her all on stage. She surrounds herself with good musicians, has a super musical soul mate in Terence Collie, and never stops entertaining the audience with her off the wall comments (you can’t help but love her).

It’s a shame there weren’t more at Pizza Express Live to see her perform. They would have enjoyed the night. Live music should be supported.

Title image by Monica Jakubowska 

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