“Dinner with Gershwin” is a good song to start with as we explore the catalogue of Brenda Russell. We are in Islington, and it is always a privilege to be in the Victorian Gothic surrounds of the Union Chapel, and even more special as it is an evening celebrating 20 years of Dome Records, and the huge contribution they have made to soul music. Most importantly, we have Brenda Russell in the house with full band, and a rare opportunity to sit back and listen to some classic songs penned by this prolific songwriter, singer, and genre-crossing musician.
The initial sound issues are swept aside as we are treated to a beautiful rendition of “Expect A Miracle,” before lifting the tempo for “A Little Bit Of Love,” which brought the dancers out on the balcony. I realise that the venue is packed, and find myself singing along to the catchy chorus of this song I have not heard in a wee while! “Fall In Love Again” is a dreamy tune, which is better live than on the album, and truly enhanced by the piano solo from Matt Cooper.
“In The Thick Of It” is one of my all-time favourite songs, and in the Top Ten of my top rated tunes on my iPod. I am excited at the prospect of hearing it live, and Brenda Russell, thankfully, includes it in her London set as a nod to its European popularity. This song literally raises the roof off the Union Chapel, as it is clearly a favourite for many in the audience. I am happy, giggling, and the gig could end at this point and I would be satisfied! Thankfully, it doesn’t and further songs included are “It’s A Jazz Day,” “Way Back When,” and “So Good So Right,” which is taken out in a Gospel fuelled finale.
It would be impossible to leave the stage without singing “If Only For One Night,” which Luther Vandross re-recorded, and is a touching and meaningful plea for intimacy, and another crowd pleaser.
Matt Cooper treats us to an extended piano solo, which serves as the introduction to the Grammy nominated song “Piano In The Dark.”
As an encore “Get Here,” re-recorded by Oleta Adams is her most popular song, and I find myself relating to this song and thinking, “Yeah, I don’t care how you get here, just get here if you can.”
A truly beautiful evening in one of the best music venues in London! Really glad you came, Ms Brenda Russell, and please return to these shores real soon!
Thanks, Jazz FM. Thanks, Dome Records (and, of course, Happy Anniversary to you)!
About the Writer
Terry Joe is a London-based has led bands as a vocalist, releasing cds and regularly performing. His favourite artists include Anita Baker, Jill Scott, Al Green, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Ledisi, Nathan Haines, Me'shell NdegeOcello and many more.