An Evening of Jazz and Cabaret review: there was so much outstanding musical talent on stage

Performers at An Evening of Jazz and Cabaret at Norwich Playhouse included (from left to right): Kay

Performers at An Evening of Jazz and Cabaret at Norwich Playhouse included (from left to right): Kayleigh Gare and Josh Oram, Simon Hurley, Lauren Dove, Celeste Caramanna, Earl Okin, Simon Brown, Joseph Betts and Joanna Eden. Pictures: supplied by Event Management Services - Credit: supplied by Event Management Services

An Evening of Jazz and Cabaret, a variety night fundraiser in aid of Breast Cancer Now and Keeping Abreast, took place at Norwich Playhouse last night [15 September].

Performers at An Evening of Jazz and Cabaret at Norwich Playhouse included (from left to right): Kay

Performers at An Evening of Jazz and Cabaret at Norwich Playhouse included (from left to right): Kayleigh Gare and Josh Oram, Simon Hurley, Lauren Dove, Celeste Caramanna, Earl Okin, Simon Brown, Joseph Betts and Joanna Eden. Pictures: supplied by Event Management Services - Credit: supplied by Event Management Services

There comes a time for any entertainments critic when a sense of puzzlement descends. In a show like this, where do I start?

I say this because there was so much outstanding musical talent on stage that it seems unfair to single out anyone to take the lead: But, with all due respect to others on the bill, I'm going to.

I was highly impressed with the musicality of teenager Kayleigh Gare when she sung with the Jonathan Wyatt Big Band in last year's show; but this year, having formed a musical partnership with fellow teen Josh Oram, I sensed (as did the audience) that we were listening to something very special, with this combination of two highly individual voices.

Performers at An Evening of Jazz and Cabaret at Norwich Playhouse included (from left to right): Kay

Performers at An Evening of Jazz and Cabaret at Norwich Playhouse included (from left to right): Kayleigh Gare and Josh Oram, Simon Hurley, Lauren Dove, Celeste Caramanna, Earl Okin, Simon Brown, Joseph Betts and Joanna Eden. Pictures: supplied by Event Management Services - Credit: supplied by Event Management Services

It wasn't perfect; young Mr Oram needs to have more appreciation of microphone dynamics - but their performance of Shallow, from the recent movie A Star Is Born, was a real show-stopper and an indication of just what this young duo could achieve in the future.


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The bedrock of this, the 17th show presented by Chris Bailey, and sponsored this year by Norwich solicitors and financial advisers Hansells, was the excellent Simon Brown Quintet (Simon on piano, Roger Beaujolais on vibes, Simon Hurley on guitar, Jose Canha on bass and Alex Best on drums) playing mostly numbers from Simon's Back To Birdland project, an appreciation of the music of British jazz pianist George Shearing, who overcame his blindness to achieve greatness.

Joanna Eden joined the band to sing numbers originally performed by Peggy Lee and Nancy Wilson with Shearing; Lauren Dove gave a taster of Songbird, her forthcoming tribute to the late Eva Cassidy; and Joseph Betts trod the well-worn path of the Great American Songbook, injecting it with his own brand of humour.

Performers at An Evening of Jazz and Cabaret at Norwich Playhouse included (from left to right): Kay

Performers at An Evening of Jazz and Cabaret at Norwich Playhouse included (from left to right): Kayleigh Gare and Josh Oram, Simon Hurley, Lauren Dove, Celeste Caramanna, Earl Okin, Simon Brown, Joseph Betts and Joanna Eden. Pictures: supplied by Event Management Services - Credit: supplied by Event Management Services

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Singer/comedian Earl Okin, a regular at these shows, closed it all with his wry and understated humour, but had a real surprise up his sleeve by introducing young Italian singer Celeste, whose stylish performances of songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto underscored his obvious love for the Brazilian jazz-tinged Bossa Nova genre.

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