Review: The Music of Dudley Moore - Not only Joanna Eden but also the Chris Ingham Quartet at Fairycroft House in Saffron Walden

PUBLISHED: 12:12 14 May 2017

Joanna Eden and the Chris Ingham Quartet present Dudley Moore's Jazz at Fairycroft House, Saffron Walden

Joanna Eden and the Chris Ingham Quartet present Dudley Moore's Jazz at Fairycroft House, Saffron Walden

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Dudley Moore was known as a comedian and celebrated as a Hollywood movie star (he said he was a “sex thimble”) but his greatest talent as a jazz musician and composer are largely forgotten and his records are out of print.

So a packed audience at Fairycroft House in Saffron Walden on Saturday (May 13) was delighted (and your reviewer felt very privileged) to have these tunes restored to glorious life by the Chris Ingham Quartet.

Ingham on the piano (literally playing Dudley) with Paul Higgs on trumpet, Owen Morgan on double bass and George Double on drums, took us back to the 1960s, except there was no cigarette smoke.

Dudley’s story was amusingly told and beautifully played. Here we had the keyboard of Dudley’s life.

We knew was a grammar school boy from Dagenham and he won an organ scholarship to go to Oxford. But he was over-awed when he got there by some of the posh boys, even though he was cleverer than them. And after the Oxford chums’ success with Beyond the Fringe in the West End and on Broadway, it was just two of the cast, Dudley and Peter Cook, who were invited onto to television with the hit show Not Only but Also.

This created phrases which went into the language - as well has having a musical interlude with Dudley playing his jazz compositions on prime time television.

The delight of the evening was hearing that music played so expertly and with such affection. It included a full-length version of a Dudley composition, now the theme tune for the Radio Four programme, Quote UnQuote, also his version of My Blue Heaven and music Dudley composed for the original 1967 movie Bedazzled.

This was directed by Stanley Donen who had directed Singing in the Rain. With a Faustian theme, Dudley played Stanley Moon, a man who made a pact with the devil (played by Peter Cook who wrote the screenplay). Raquel Welch played Lust and Barry Humphries was Envy.

Ingham described Dudley’s love life as “blonde hopping”.

He said it was a case of: “Love me! Oh you do love me...well see you around then.”

Moore’s divorce from his first wife, the actress Suzy Kendall in the early 1970s, was memorable. The headline in London’s Evening Standard was: “Cuddle me, Dudley, we’re divorced.” They left the court together, smiling and shared a taxi. They stayed friends for the rest of their lives.

Some of Moore’s music is wistful, like his Waltz for Suzy and Sad One for George.

As Ingham said, Dudley had stayed with his friend George and his wife, and had so much respect for George that he ran off with his Mrs.

But the evening at the newly established Joanna’s Place sessions at Fairycroft House was not only Ingham. Saffron Walden’s own celebrated (Ronnie Scott’s selling out) jazz singer, Joanna Eden, gave us her moving version of A Taste of Honey which evoked in every note the emotion of past love remembered.

Other Joanna’s Place events are planned for June including music to commemorate the late Labour MP Jo Cox who was killed just before last year’s referendum. These include concerts in Cambridge and a musical picnic on Saffron Walden Common on Saturday June 17 called More in Common on the Common because Jo Cox said people had more in common than the things that kept them apart. See: www.joannaeden.net.

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