Jonny is a terrific singer/songwriter, with influences ranging from Leonard Cohen to the Beatles, visiting Bob Dylan and Don Francisco on the way. His lyrics are evocative, and his wistful style endlessly melodic in a way that belies his roots in and love of busking and live street music.
Jonny asked me to provide a support act set to start the evening off, and to play piano alongside him during his set. It was a pleasure to take part in the event - and a challenge to think of material that would work alongside someone so different to my usual work!
I opted for half a dozen love songs.
A psalm, a song I wrote for a wedding (in the year John my bass player was born), a song of loss, a Welsh hymn of love (in Welsh), and two songs loving life in different ways - If I ruled the world (melted down into a gentle jazz waltz and allowed to be the prettiest of tunes), and Charlie Chaplin's Smile, all jazz solos before exploding into melody.
Free, expansive, fun, relaxed. I had the most response on the night to the song of loss, when I confessed that this apparent love song was about my dog. I almost couldn't sing it, actually, but once I started, it was alright.
I was really grateful for the chance to perform like that - and I was grateful to Jonny for asking me. Steve on trombone & John on bass who played with me were immense, and great fun. We may do something similar again; there is a suggestion in the air that we find an excuse to bring more simple jazz to the venue...
Then we headed into Jonny territory. The crowd loved it. Quite right. He is a great performer, even if a gig like this (as opposed to the informality of the streets) isn't quite his familiar territory. It should be, the material is certainly up to it, as is his terrific voice. In rehearsal, bass-player John's amazing ear rescued me more than once, and I guess Jonny is so used to working alone, and I so used to providing people with charts & chords that our very different working styles meant working together was at times a challenge for me. A challenge I'm glad I had, because it was a total pleasure to play on the evening, to listen, to watch and to be a part of what Jonny was doing.
Again - lots of thanks to Steve & John for being wonderful musicians to work with. And a shout out to Aled for help with the Welsh in Dyma Gariad. And thanks to Jonny for asking me to take part - and congrats on a great gig and a great CD. Click the link & have a listen!