REVIEW: Jazz stars Ray Gelato, Claire Martin with Dave Newton Trio, The Concorde, Eastleigh

JAZZ star Ray Gelato had to battle through London’s Siberian blizzard to get to Eastleigh’s Concorde Club.

It had taken him about 20 minutes to dig his car out of the snow at his home in the capital.

But the legendary saxophonist beat the elements to join forces with fellow award winning jazz singer Claire Martin.

On the coldest night of the year they set the temperature soaring with a scorching selection of swing band music.

Ray, known as the Godfather of Swing, and Claire, who is also BBC Radio 3 presenter, are no strangers to the The Concorde, having both headlined shows there.

But it was first time they have shared a stage at the Stoneham Lane club. It was certainly a winning combination for a duo who have showcased their swing band credentials with new album, We’ve Got a World That Swing

Their musical chemistry made this a fun evening from the moment the first note was struck. They opened their first set with the much covered 1956 popular song This Could Be The Start of Something Big.

And it triggered an evening sprinkled with classic numbers from the song books of a galaxy of big band, blues and jazz stars including Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Louis Prima, The Andrews Sisters, Billie Holiday and Louis Jordan.

Throughout the two sets Ray effortlessly switched from tenor sax to vocals.

There was a lively interpretation of We’ve Got a World That Swings which movie fans will remember American comic genius Jerry Lewis singing in the Nutty Professor.

Ray and Claire rounded off the first set with the up tempo bluesy number Now Baby or Never with Dave Newton, a serial winner of the British best jazz pianist awards, weaving his magic on the ivories.

And helping to produce this masterclass in jazz were Matt Skelton (drums) and Oli Hayhurst (bass)

Temperatures might have been plummeting outside but in a bat of an eyelid we were taken from sub zero Eastleigh to South America with They've Got an Awful Lot of Coffee in Brazil, a novelty song written by Bob Hilliard and Dick Miles and first recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1946.

There was a guest spot for budding young Eastleigh jazz singer Elijah Jeffery who celebrated his 17 th birthday by taking centre stage and delivering a note perfect version of the 1924 popular song It Had To Be You.

After rapturous applause from the Concorde’s jazz aficionados, Elijah said: “It was brilliant. I had a ball.”

This irresistible mix of swing and jazz was aptly rounded off with Ray Charles’ Smack Dab in The Middle.

It certainly hit the right spot for Concorde jazz followers as they made winter tracks for home.

Duncan Eaton