Jazz: Esther Miler

SINGER Esther Miller, having left her native South Africa less than six years ago, is still making a name for herself in the UK.But on this performance it will not be long before she becomes a big name.She took the large and appreciative Suffolk audience on a swinging and melodic journey that had them cheering and calling for more.

Esther Miller Quintet, Ipswich Jazz Club, Sunday, June 17

SINGER Esther Miller, having left her native South Africa less than six years ago, is still making a name for herself in the UK.

But on this performance it will not be long before she becomes a big name.

She took the large and appreciative Suffolk audience on a swinging and melodic journey that had them cheering and calling for more.


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And she can certainly vary the music she offers and the pace that it is presented, and so she opened with a lively version of I Could Write a Book, followed by an unusual arrangement of Softly as in a Morning Sunrise before slowing things down for a wistful arrangement of the wistful, Never Let Me Go.

The arrangements, most of them by Ms Miller's musical director, Gerry Spencer, are perhaps a key to her success. The material is mainly from the standards but these familiar tunes are given some delightful twists and turns.

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Some of the arrangements featured the voice of Ms Miller and the tenor saxophone of Karen Sharp together, note for note, and when Ms Miller introduced some scat singing at pace in Bernies Tune, it was truly hot stuff.

In Lowestoft-raised John Day on bass and John Perry on drums, Ms Miller had an excellent driving force behind her. . . and their solo offerings were also little gems.

Karen Sharp, of course, is now well established on the UK music scene, but listen carefully, and you will observe she can give many of the long established “stars” a run for their money. . . and that includes Scott Hamilton!

A highlight of the evening was Ms Miller's interpretation of the familiar My Funny Valentine, first heard in the film, Babes In Arms, starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland - another quite emotional version with Ms Miller making the most of the lyrics, including the verse as well as the chorus.

It was quite a show, and Esther Miller sold quite a few of her recordings too.

It was a first appearance in Ipswich for this star in the making, and it certainly won't be the last.

Alan Crumpton

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