Jo Harrop (and Paul Edis) at Ronnie Scott’s – London Jazz News

Jo Harrop

(That of Ronnie Scott. 25 April 2022. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

Jo Harrop (with Jihad Darwish) . Photo © Robert Crowley

Conventional wisdom holds that there is a and only one really significant date in the modern history of Chester-Le-Street, Co. Durham: June 5, 2003. Well, April 25, 2022 might turn out to be another. On each occasion, the main protagonists wore white … There are more details about 2003 in the footnote. singer from last night Jo Harrop and pianist/arrangerPaul Edis

both from Chester-Le-Street, made their main stage debut at Ronnie Scott’s.

Strange to think that when we first covered Jo Harrop it was at Pizza Express in March 2009 (REVIEW HERE), so it’s THIRTEEN years to go around Dean Street to Frith Street. Her experience, the sixth sense she has now built on how to engage and attract an audience, especially at slow tempos with minimal support, is now something truly remarkable. We need it. Post-pandemic audiences seem to take a lot longer to settle in, stop chatting, fidgeting and checking their posts, but seeing the chemistry set in, watching the battle won is still a great experience. It’s just a bit frustrating that you now have to wait so much longer for this to happen. (You just have to pay attention and try to remember why you actually bothered going out to a concert hall.)

But it happened. There was a lovely moment at the end of the sixth song, “Hold On”, when the last song form ended and the singer and band just started improvising and quietly spinning around a four-bar sequence. You could feel the attention rise in the room and all the ambient noise magically fade away. Less really can be more.

Jo Harrop. Photo © Robert Crowley There were many other great moments like this where the freedom given by working with just one other musicianguitaristJamie McCredie or bassistJihad Darwish or Paul Edis

(full list of bands below). This contrast and the contrast between the full arrangements and the clean settings were well done. And the repertoire of songs is constantly expanding. “Red Mary Janes,” co-written with Hannah Vasanth is deliciously Fats Waller-ish and fun. Tom Waits’ “Rainbow Sleeves” gave Peggy Nolan a great moment on cello to deliver a beautifully etched counter-melody.

Harrop has a clear idea why the emotional content of songs is what it is; such conviction and belief have clearly been reinforced by the strange times of the pandemic. They are also good songs (set-list below). The most recent album,the heart wants

, is primarily based on a songwriting partnership with Paul Edis. Harrop began sending her lyrics and explained how overwhelmed she was by the first track that came back, “If I Knew.” Paul Edis’ arrangement of this song is also crafty. The opening is for string quartet and (I think) based on the Tristan chord, which then reinforces the feeling that the song can really answer an unresolved question. I remember being really drawn into the world of Edis songwriting by the song “Wise Words” when 606 had their first Livestream (REVIEWED). Those impressions were reinforced last night. A special occasion.

Jo Harrop said of Chester-Le-Street “We are really trying to put it on the map”… Job done!

Paul Edis. Photo © Robert Crowley

June 5, 2003 was the first day of the first test at the Riverside Ground, in the shadow of 14th-century Lumley Castle, the first new test site in England for 101 years. The opening ball was thrown by Heath Streak of Zimbabwe to Marcus Trescothick of England. Streak threw a spotter outside the stump Trescothick left behind. The next two balls were wide. England won by one end.
May 12 – Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle
May 14 – Hexham Jazz Festival, Hexham
May 17 – Hare and Hounds, Birmingham
May 19 – Matt & Phreds Jazz Club, Manchester
21 May – Peggy’s Skylight, Nottingham
May 22 – Watford Jazz Junction Festival, London

June 29 – Pizza Express (Soho), London 10 July – Swanage Jazz Festival, Swanage

BANDAGED:Jo Harrop, vocals. Paul Edis, MD/piano, Jamie McCredie, guitar. Jihad Darwish, bass. Pete Adam Hill, drums. Andy Davies, trumpet. Amika String Quartet: Laura Senior, Lucy McKay, violins, Lucy Nolan, viola, Peggy Nolan, cello.



the heart wants

Everything changes


what if

dangerous love


I think you better go

What a little moonlight can do

Too early

Life inside

If I knew

red babies

Rainbow sleeves

wise words

If I ever left you

Face the storm


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