Friday 4 October 2013

Dare to Love Jacqui Dankworth

Jacqui Dankworth
It wouldn't take much of a gambler to venture that Jacqui Dankworth has blown on the dice of love and thrown them with both tenderness and hope before. Last Wednesday (02/10/2013) at Chelsea's 606 Club she gambled with us once again, mixing a suitable dash of class and style with her brinkmanship.

A launch for new album 'Live to Love' does exactly what it says on the tin. Peel back the label though and we start to see her extra layers. Yes, we are treated to both heartfelt lyrics and well crafted music, produced by collaborator Geoff Gascoyne (bass), which swell the narrative. Words and stories may dent my wizened heart a little but it was Dankworth herself who is the most powerful puncture to a cynic's affections.

Charlie Wood - piano
The 606 was busy with young couples photographing their meals for their social media status', old gents sniffing cork and a couple of bubble-perms, as if to remind us of Jacqui Dankworth's heritage. We were served the tunes like a diner working their way through the menu from top to bottom. The opener 'Live to Love' was swiftly followed with an appearance by Dankworth's lover, Charlie Wood on backing vocals for 'Malala (he later appeared on his more customary piano in the second set).

Rob Barron - piano
The night kicked into gear with the third tune, 'We do need love' on which Rob Barron played a strong role. More than a stand in for Charlie Wood, he switched between keyboard and the 606's Yamaha piano. His fop of dark hair lashed down from the strictest of side partings and the tune was an excellent foil for his skill. That's not to say Wood's presence wasn't felt, his compositional skills on 'A certain kind of Eden' along with Dankworth's delivery created one of the night's highlights. The tune originated from a writing circle which Wood is a member of, where a bright creative spark chooses a title and everyone else lights the touch paper to produce something of merit and musical expression.

Geoff Gascoyne - Bass
Geoff Gacoyne got his hips moving seductively on 'A certain kind of Eden' and if he had started a conga line I would have been the first to join the queue. Surprisingly it wasn't his pelvis that showed us his best credentials, both his playing and writing on 'All is Quiet' was superb and illustrated why he is feted as both producer, player and probably all round good egg. Although the 'egg' is pure assumption, but to see the affection in Jacqui Dankworth's eyes when she talked of him must show he is of the golden rather than the rotten variety.

Chris Allard - guitar
'It's Tomorrow's World' saw a strong hand by Chris Allard on guitar and the strength of a daughter's love for her father too. The tune of the night was the up tempo 'Just a song', not on this new album unfortunately but an excellent mast to hoist Jacqui Dankworth's sailing voice upon. As the night progressed I realised that Dankworth was best experienced live, for not only is her voice and storytelling uplifting, it is her persona that you cannot keep your eyes from.

Here is a woman of tenderness, a woman who needs love and to reach out to love others. It is this casting-off of her affections into the deep dark of the 606 audience that was the real tension of this night. We can all say the words of love that come easy, the 'I love yous' to our partners and sometimes family but can or should we stretch blindly in the shadows like this.

One short statement seems appropriate here, from Jacqui Dankworth's childhood schooling no less. A simple Quaker motto, Dare to Love.
And we should.


A special thank you to Jessica Gerry of Brissett Music who took care of me for the night.

Apologies to Mike Smith on drums who I couldn't draw because he was hidden from my gaze.

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