Brighton Year-Round 2022
The Sara Oschlag Quartet – Sara Oschlag (vocals), Chris Coull (trumpet and flugelhorn), Jason Henson (guitar) and Nigel Thomas (double-bass) play an hour-long set. The last in the series till next May.
The Sara Oschlag Quartet return for a very welcome set with a distinctive, beguiling tang I’ve not heard in a line up like this.
Sara’s originally from Denmark and sings in Danish quite often.
Her fellow musicians are: Chris Coull (trumpet and flugelhorn), Jason Henson (guitar) and Nigel Thomas (double-bass). All enjoy obligatory solos, but as you’d expect with these instruments the emphasis is on cool jazz, with something later in the vocals
They first played: Angel Eyes (Matt Dennis) as a way into their harmonic word both floaty in atmosphere and suddenly snapping to for some solos of piercing virtuosity. This s real cool jazz, with vocals, the original keyboard part has a touch of Thelonius Monk’s Round Midnight to it.
Next up and up-tempo too, was the brief Stomping at the Savoy (Edgar Sampson, from Duke Ellington’s band) with emphasis on Coull and Thomas, and a sense of the 1930s, not too far removed from the tones of Tea for Two. Or Billy Mayerl.
Whisper Not (Benny Golson) was originally written for the eponymous quintet, and this owns a more relaxed sonority but not virtuosity. Still it’s a big piece, with several solos, and certainly th standout instrumental number.
I’m Glad There is You (Jimmy Dorsey, Paul Madeira) is a languorous swung number often on guitar, with a memorable five-note theme repeated and varied to a brief spun coda.
Tea for Two (Vincent Youmans, Irving Caesar) This was sung in the style of Anita O’Day from 1958, much more swung than the 1927 original, or indeed the Shostakovich orchestration. This is almost skat-singing – a strength of Sara Oschlag’s voice – brilliant, bubbling with a rapid-fire voice and a jazz accompaniment that makes it sound almost, but not quite, unrecognizable. It’s vivid and punchy at just under four minutes.
Social Call (Gigi Gryce) with Coull particularly, and Thomas prominent latterly is an attractive instrumental number from 1955 with each soloist taking it away for about six minutes.
Dindi (Antonio Carlos Jobim) is a far cooler and slower item, vocals drifting in and out as Oschlag literally enacts the clouds she invokes, ad evokes. It’s a bewitching rendition here, accompanied primarily on guitar by Jason Henson. Two minutes in there’s an up-tempo middle section that’s the heart of this happy, hazy brilliance of a song. There’s a generous instrumental solo three minutes into this five minutes song.
Doodlin’ (Horace Silver) is a 1954 piece around early cool, but inflected certainly by Bird. It’s one fo the most extended of the instrumental pieces, with a strong part for Coull, a kind of mini trumpet concerto almost, swung and given an early-ish 1950s treatment. Her of course it’s far cooler far more hip, and without the wild percussion of the original.
There was a lovely vocal encore I couldn’t quite identify. This is a sovereign group, with Sara Oschlag a wonderful vocalist at its core, recalling all the 1950s-60s vocalists – O’Day most of all – but far more than that, with her own floaty voice and bringing this quality to the whole ensemble. Superb.