Barb Jungr and Gill Manly live
Barb Jungr offers her Newbury audience a number of Bob Dylan favourites along with a taste of her new album
Miles Amoore, writing in this paper two years ago, pretty perfectly nailed what is so special about Barb Jungr as a performer of the works of Bob Dylan.
"The most accomplished aspect of Jungr's work," he wrote, "is her capacity to adjust Dylan by fading him in and out of focus."
He was dead right, and during Friday's set at New Greenham Arts she presented Dylan in sharp focus.
There was comparatively little banter, just the stark truth of Don't Think Twice, It's All Right, delivered with all the certainly of a sermon from a southern states pulpit, followed by a surprisingly delicate reading of I'll Be Your Baby Tonight. It was as good a set as we have heard in the past five years and it all had a faintly valedictory air.
You'd be silly to miss the final show in November. The brilliant Simon Wallace on piano remained on stage to back the indomitable Gill Manly in the second half. Manly's recent comeback is the stuff of which Biography Channel sagas are made.
She first made a name for herself in the 1980s, becoming a regular at the 606 Club and performing in major venues such as the foyer of The National Theatre, The Royal Festival Hall and The Barbican, where she rubbed shoulders with the likes of Tony Bennett and Eartha Kitt.
In 1995 her debut album earned her a nomination as Jazz Vocalist of the Year.
Then came serious health problems and Manly simply disappeared. To be strictly accurate, she became a Tibetan buddhist, even visiting the Dalai Lama.
As you do... Then in March 2007, taa raa, she played a triumphant comeback gig in London, her talent undimmed. Her friends and peers, including Ian Shaw, Claire Martin and Richard Rodney Bennett were in the audience.
You couldn't make it up. This set, comprised mainly of standards such as A Night in Tunisia and With a Song in My Heart showcased her enormous range and subtlety of tone and confirmed her as one of Jungr's most popular Blue Hours guests.