Sunshine, showers and some outstanding music at Orford

Gwyneth Herbert, Jazz At The Pavilion, Orford, July 25

Singer-songwriter Gwyneth Herbert possesses a powerful voice which she used to full advantage at the weekend to deliver two hugely enjoyable sets at the annual Jazz at the Pavilion gig in Orford.

Backed by long-time guitarist Will Rutter, Gwyneth played songs from her recent album All The Ghosts as well as reinterpreting a number of jazz classics as well as the Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night. Gwyneth has a wonderful chatty rapport with the audience which certainly helped when her digital loop pedal packed up and she had to recruit the crowd to supply backing vocals for her soon to be released single Perfect Fit.

Earlier, she was reduced to helpless laughter when half way through the jazz/blues standard Cry Me A River, she caught sight of two pre-school children performing some wild and free expressive dancing. The collapse of the song wouldn’t have been so bad if she had described it in her introduction as probably the saddest song she had ever heard.

The children were whisked away to the sidelines by anxious parents, Gwyneth restarted the song and we were treated to an outstanding performance. She also revealed a reworking of her song Lorelei which will feature as a song of the sirens in the Songs of the Sea song cycle to be unveiled at Snape on October 1.

Gwyneth last performed at Orford three years ago and in that time has transformed herself from jazz chanteuse to adept storyteller. My personal favourites included So Worn Out - the tale of Dave a character who lurks outside the local petrol station with Star wars and Star Trek figures in his pockets, My Narrow Man, Jane Into A Beauty Queen and the gloriously raucous blues My Mini and Me – a memorial to a much missed car.

Jazz At The Pavilion is a wonderfully relaxed event raising money for local charities and Gwyneth was supported by some outstanding local talent including Natasha Hodge who started the day with some wonderful versions of jazz standards with Nick Raison on piano, she was then followed by talented singer-songwriter Ben Scarce who treated the crowd to some catchy songs with some timely and at times touching observations on modern life. He is setting out on a performing career having just graduated from university. He was followed after the interval by veteran guitarist Bruce McCrae.

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It didn’t matter that weather-wise it was a mix of sunshine and showers because Jazz At The Pavilion is a wonderful fixture on the Suffolk music calendar, defined by its relaxed atmosphere as much as it is by its first-class musical performances.

Andrew Clarke