Anniversary gig for first lady of jazz

Crissy Lee's HyBryd, High Barn Theatre, Great Bardfield. Friday, October 17 THIS special concert was a celebration of 50 years in showbusiness by Essex based drummer Crissy Lee and it was a celebration in every sense of the word.

Crissy Lee's HyBryd, High Barn Theatre, Great Bardfield. Friday, October 17

THIS special concert was a celebration of 50 years in showbusiness by Essex based drummer Crissy Lee and it was a celebration in every sense of the word.

Over those years Crissy - her first tentative steps in music were as a child aged four - has been involved in a wide aspect of music and she's been involved with the best. . .she's worked with the likes of Dinah Washington, Al Jarreau, Maynard Ferguson. She was also musical director for Roy Castle and Bob Monkhouse.

It was, clearly, an emotional evening for the woman who is widely regarded as the UKs top female percussionist, and she recalled the early days when her father took her to the Salvation Army meetings at Colchester and Ipswich.


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She recalled:" My dad didn't have a car and he made me a little cart for my tiny drum kit and he would tow it along on his bike."

She pointed out how difficult it was at the start. "In those days I had to scrimp and save to buy things for the kit, now everything I play is paid for by sponsors. . . it's strange how things come so easily when you don't really need it any more.

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Over the years Crissy played with the hugely popular Ivy Benson All-Girls Band and then, with her own band, The Beat Chics, she toured with The Beatles.

Her latest band, HyBryd, soon got into the mood of things and they got the evening off to a funky start with a lively version of The Chicken and then Crissy introduced her singer, Aussie Mike Finnegan.

It was the first time I had heard this singer and I hope it was not the last. He's said to influenced by Steve Wonder but his vocal range and superb phrasing revealed that he's like Ian Shaw and Mark Murphy rolled into one for good measure. . . here is an artist supreme who deserves to be heard outside the capital. . . come on you East Anglian bookers!

Another highlight of the evening was a version of 'Round Midnight that featured Bernie Hodgkins on bass guitar and singing along behind Mr Finnegan.

Young Carl Sterling, on a new tenor sax (his previous one had been badly damaged in a motor bike accident) contributed some cracking solos and, of course, Crissy Lee never put a foot (or hand) wrong all evening.

Crissy introduced one or two special guests who were invited to sit in and, one of Crissy's fellow Skinnerettes from the Frank Sinner television show, was in the audience.

There was, of course a 50th birthday cake, and Crissy was almost overcome at the end when somebody arrived with pet dog Molly.

What a celebration, what a band and what a down to earth, modest and highly talented lady Crissy Lee is.

Alan Crumpton

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