Carol Kidd - Live at Pizza Express - The Times
18 September 2009The Times
At this stage in her career, Carol Kidd is very unlikely to change her ways. We have to get used to the petite, silver-haired woman whom Frank Sinatra once described as "the best kept secret of British jazz" having an impish and downright mischievous side to her persona. Just as Sinatra himself could lapse into boorishness and tasteless jokes between songs, so Kidd can suddenly turn into a comic turn from a Sauchiehall Street pub, circa last orders.
And so, one moment you are wafting on a sunlit cloud of Rodgers and Hart poetry, the next you hear her announcing, with a wicked grin, that she is "knackered" after making the journey from Glasgow. Kidd is not the only British vocalist who enjoys breaking the spell between numbers - home-grown artists often work too hard at proving they don't belong in Vegas. But I cannot think of anyone who puts on quite such a display of not caring a hoot what people think of her.
Still, we should be grateful that we still have a chance to hear her at all. Many a year has passed since she last appeared in London. (It must be at least 15 years since I last saw her, on a South Bank double-bill with George Shearing, no less.) After the death of her partner triggered an emotional crisis, she made her long-overdue return to the recording studio last year with the immaculate ballad-driven album Dreamsville.
It was a shame that her opening set attracted only a modest crowd to the Pizza Express Jazz Club - Kidd deserved better. As soon as she embarked on the first of her ballads, it was obvious that the old gifts were unimpaired. When she sang It Never Entered My Mind or A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square Kidd reduced the room to utter silence. Her hushed transatlantic tones, her exquisite phrasing were quite hypnotic.
The guitarist Nigel Clark added subtle counterpoint alongside the bassist Mario Caribe and drummer Alyn Cosker. On the duet Do You Believe? - a song that Clark and Kidd composed for the new album - he sketched the faintest of pastel backdrops. Admittedly, her delivery was not quite so assured on up-tempo numbers, including a funky recasting of I've Got You under My Skin.
Introspection is her forte, although she often seems to do her best to pretend otherwise.
Related LinksCarol KiddDreamsville