Jazz Journal Review of Pizza Express Gig 7th July 2013

Rachel Sutton mixed 50s American swing with contemporary composition to great effect at Pizza Express - catch her if you can, says Amanda Blinkhorn.

Rachel Sutton’s soaring vocals pack a power and perception which belie her years. She set the tone for vintage glamour by opening with Too Close For Comfort, taking us back to a time when America stood for all things classy, sharp and romantic. She breathed life into American classics like I’m A Woman and Good Morning Little Schoolgirl with a sense of naughtiness which made them hot again.

In a tight, cleverly selected set at the Pizza Express in Dean St, London which took us from the levées of Louisiana to the vast flat fields of Kansas via the Wichita Lineman, she was as relaxed with the golden oldies as she was with her own compositions, bringing a contemporary poignancy to that tribute to the destitute laid-off casualties of the 1930s Depression, Buddy Can You Spare A Dime.

Dressed in black taffeta and velvet gauze, she was clearly at home with her impressively seasoned band which includes her husband, Roland Perrin, on piano, Michael Curtis Ruiz on bass, Paul Robinson on drums and John Etheridge guesting on guitar. Etheridge joined her for a cheekily rewritten version of John Lee Williamson’s Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, redubbed Good Morning Little Schoolboy for the night.

Rachel changed tempo and mood with her own composition The Space, an achingly tough and tender lament for a lost mother, holding the Dean Street basement in the palm of her elegantly swaying hand.

She ended as she’d begun, by taking us back to 50s America with James Elmore’s The Sky Is Crying. Sutton has paid her dues. The encore, Autumn Leaves, came far too soon. Catch her if you can.

Jazz Journal Review