Gig Review:
Jan Ponsford Quartet Reunion At Jan's Bar,
Stoke Newington, London N16, Sunday 21st April 2013
Jan Ponsford Quartet Reunion

Jan's Bar
18 Northwold Road, Stoke Newington, London N16 7HR
Sunday 21st April 2013 , 7pm


Jan Ponsford Quartet :

Jan Ponsford - vocals
Frances Knight - piano, accordion
Terry Pack - double bass
Winston Clifford - drums

Special Guest:
Diane McLoughlin - tenor sax

Date of Review: 2013/04/22

All illustrations by and © Alban Low. All rights reserved.
Jan Ponsford Quartet Reunion At Jan's Bar,
Stoke Newington, London N16, Sunday 21st April 2013

Last night, Sunday 21st April is a date worth remembering. It marked the return of one of Britain's two premier jazz vocalists, the unforgettable Jan Ponsford to the scene, with the Jan Ponsford Quartet Reunion At Jan's Bar, Stoke Newington, and the start of a new monthly residence there.

Img. of Jan Ponsford
Jan Ponsford

The stellar master of scat improvisation and vocal 'impersonation' of instruments, Ms. Ponsford will surely need no introduction. This was her reunion with her usual quartet, featuring three world class, stellar instrumentalists alongside Ms. Ponsford - Frances Knight on (here electric) piano and accordion, Terry Pack on double bass and one of the finest drummers on the British scene, Winston Clifford at the traps.

Of course, the Jan Ponsford Quartet, or JPQ, as usual were totally unrehearsed. They can be apart for years, yet they are so well attuned to one another that when they get together it is as if they have been playing together all the time, as indeed with all truly great bands. It is obvious they enjoy one another's company and playing together, and there is a joyful vibe that is totally infectious.

Img. of Terry Pack
Terry Pack

From the start the Jan Ponsford Quartet Reunion At Jan's Bar, Stoke Newington was firing on all cylinders, as smooth as a pedigree engine, and right away completely irresistible to the enthusiastic and appreciative crowd. With the second song, almost everybody was looking for the trumpet player - until they realised that it was Ms. Ponsford and one of her inimitable instrumental impersonations! Pure joy and delight. As indeed were the whole two wonderful sets throughout. (The 'trumpet' made a second appearance later in the second set.)

Img. of Diane McLoughlin
Diane McLoughlin

Throughout both sets, the quartet were joined for some numbers by special guest, the extraordinary Diane McLoughlin on tenor. A truly impressive jazz player, Ms. McLoughlin may also be familiar as a regular of world jazz band Terryazoome, as indeed should be drummer Clifford - the latter also from another jazz great, Tony Kofi, and many others. Ms. McLoughlin excelled both at ensemble playing and soloing.



What is there to be said about jazz singer extraordinaire Jan Ponsford that has not been said a thousand times before? The magic of her voice and its large range, tending to hover around its lower registers, the amazing scat improvisations that flow as freely as a stream, the incredible ability to imitate instruments with a stunning accuracy, and the gorgeous interpretations of the material - all these are utterly captivating and enchanting, entrancing even. Ms. Ponsford is quite simply perfection itself.

Img. of Frances Knight
Frances Knight

The songs presented last night included eight fine classics and standards, All Blues, Teach me tonight, My Funny Valentine, 's wonderful, Agua de Beber, Compared to What?, Hum Drum Blues and an incomparable God Bless the Child, and two of Ms. Ponsford's originals, The Other Side of the Fence and Oh, the only way is up. All were an absolute marvel.

Img. of Winston Clifford
Winston Clifford

All were sensitively accompanied by Ms. Knight's fine piano and accordion, Pack's superb solid bass and Clifford's equally superb traps. Each of the three were also afforded generous opportunities by Ms. Ponsford to shine in their own right with some outstanding solos.

Ms. Ponsford's - and her quartet's - performance last night is best summed up as, simply, class. This is the kind of class that one does not have the privilege to enjoy every day, rather, it is the kind of class that stands apart from and above the rest. You will know it when you hear it. And you will never forget it.

Altogether, the Jan Ponsford Quartet Reunion At Jan's Bar, Stoke Newington last night was a special kind of magic, an evening to savour, to treasure. Unforgettable.

In closing - as always a big thank you to Rainlore's World's Artist in Residence Alban Low for the use of his brilliant illustrations of the gig and all his hard work in preparing them. His sketching hand was flying over his pad as if possessed, in spite of very poor lighting! To find out more about Alban Low's work and to see more examples of his exquisite art and to get a catalogue of posters and prints, please visit his web site and his blogs, Art Of Jazz and Art Of Folk.

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