Review and photo by Lance Liddle from Bebop Spoken Here, 24 April 2016
Kay Usher (vln); Bradley Johnston, Simon Stephenson, John Usher (gtrs); Dave Parker (bs) + Julie Allen
Debut gigs are usually good audience-wise.The leader makes an effort, invites friends who invite friends and bingo! You’ve got a full house. We saw this previously with Minnie and the Moochers. The moral being, if you’ve got a gig, push it, don’t assume they’ll just turn up – you’re rarely the only game in town.
Tonight saw a very good turnout for this latest Djangolic reincarnation. The original line-up, i.e. violin, three guitars and double bass? Well, not exactly, Kay Usher fiddled a solid bodied violin and the guitars were not three Maccas but one Macca, one f holed electro/acoustic and one standard steel-strung plugged in acoustic.
What did matter was that they gave an outstanding performance recreating those heady Parisian days of yore before they became days of war. Kay Usher, ex Northern Sinfonia, displayed an understanding of the idiom both in her solos and in her informative chat between tunes.
Bradley took most of the guitar solos although Simon also impressively plucked his way in and out. Rhythm man John grabbed a few choruses on It Don’t Mean a Thing . but this was Kay’s caper!
The music was superb – it was like as though I was sipping Dubonnet in a café in Montmartre in 1940, confident that the Seigfried Line would save madame et moi from any inconvenience. Or maybe having a cup of Fortnum & Mason’s in a Lyons Corner House during the Blitz (‘That noise? Oh it’s probably one of those bally Doodlebugs”).
Although a fairly predictable repertoire, this didn’t detract mine, or the crowd’s, obvious enjoyment: Lady Be Good; All of Me; Don’t Get Around Much Anymore; It Don’t Mean a Thing; Exactly Like You; Mood Indigo; Pennies From Heaven; Minor Swing; Out of Nowhere; Undecided (with a reference to the upcoming Referendum – don’t get me started!); Nuages; Djangology; I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love With me and Sweet Georgia Brown. For this latter number, Julie Allen accepted Kay’s invite to sing and chantez she did – tres bon!