Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Review: Wood and Dankworth, Bert's Jazz Bar, Belfast

Jacqui Dankworth
Jacqui Dankworth

Guinness and oysters. Baileys and cream. Just some of the luscious pairings you might find in a decent Belfast bar.

But last night another option was on the menu at Bert's Jazz Bar at the Merchant hotel: Wood and Dankworth.

American maestro Charlie Wood has an impeccable musical heritage - having played with the likes of BB King and Robert Plant. Wood, however, inhabits his own world; a place wherein lies, as one expert elegantly put it, "that beguiling intersection where blues, rock and jazz meet".

In a rather different corner of that lovely nirvana resides his wife Jacqui Dankworth, the Royal Shakespeare Company actress turned acclaimed singer.

Ms Dankworth is a stunning vocalist and last night she let no-one down. Some might say that having such famous parents as John Dankworth and Cleo Laine would condemn her to live forever in their shadow.

But there’s something about Jacqui Dankworth that defies convention. Together, the pair transformed the already-enchanting venue that is Bert’s into jazz/R’n’B/fusion heaven; she feeding wonderfully off the purity of Wood’s piano/vocal genius.

The show opened with a melody of Wood alone at his best - complex yet life-affirming jazz/blues affairs plus covers of selected artists including Ray Charles. And then the duet - which featured a marvellous range of originals and songs, including a special lovers rendition of Wood's own Lucky Charm.

All along the pair were superbly assisted by local trumpeter Linley Hamilton.

It was a gig that underlined Bert's growing reputation as one of Belfast's most intriguing new music venues.

* Wood and Dankworth play Bert’s again tonight at 9pm.

Paul Connolly

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