Carol Kidd - Johnny Mercer Centenary Concert - The Herald

22 June 2009
The Herald
Rob Adams

Short of bringing back Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Chet Baker from the dead, it would be difficult to think of a more apt way to celebrate the centenary of the great lyricist Johnny Mercer than the all-star show staged at the Concert Hall on Sunday night.

Three of the UK's best jazz singers - Carol Kidd, Clare Teal and Todd Gordon - served up a couple of sets of Mercer songs and demonstrated the range of his talent. If ever a writer was beloved by jazz singers it's Mercer, and it was a treat to hear his poetic lyrics delivered with such care and enthusiasm.

The dynamic Clare Teal's uptempo take on I'm Old Fashioned was the first of many highlights, along with her powerfully belted-out Blues In the Night, and, especially, her duet with elegant pianist Laurie Holloway on I Wanna Be Around.

Todd Gordon's invitation to the audience to join in on Goody Goody unleashed the jazz singer in most of the 1500-strong crowd but it was his interpretations of Mercer's haunting torch songs One For My Baby and When The World Was Young (both duets with piano) which stood out.

And then there was Carol Kidd whose performances of three of Mercer's most beautiful songs (Skylark, This Time The Dream's On Me and Moon River) surpassed all expectation. She may have made it through her exquisite reading of Moon River (with gorgeous accompaniment from guitarist Nigel Clark) without crying - but nobody else did. Not even our debonair host for the night, Sir Michael Parkinson, whose informal yet authoritative presenting style made this an altogether classier-than-normal affair.

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