Intrigued by the idea, I went along to a gig: jazz arrangements of Bowie songs, the singing by Becc Sanderson and the arrangements by trombonist Chris Greive. This was a bit of an outlier for me: I don’t normally go for singers. The vocal lines were played more or less straight; the arrangements came over the other instruments.
The first set was jazz standards, albeit standards that might not often get an airing – My Favourite Things with words rather than tenor, for instance. It was the second set that had the Bowie. And it was very fun – hugely enjoyable. Nothing too unexpected, a range of songs from the seventies and eighties. Space Oddity morphed into Ashes to Ashes; The Jean Genie and Time featured from Aladdin Sane (Sanderson stiffling a laugh at the frank language); a suitably lively Let’s Dance. Changes was an instrumental.
Sanderson has a good voice, well matched to the (mostly) familiar songs. The arrangements didn’t mess around with the songs too much – a slight change to the phrasing, a nudge to the rhythm; and lots of space for the band to stretch out.
The band reminded me once again at how much talent there is in Scotland. On drums was Tom Gordon, who I haven’t seen over here for ages (he based in Glasgow, I think). The pianist was Steve Hamilton, who was superb – there were moments where he changed the mood of a song with some subtlely placed chords. And Greive and Martin Kershaw made a fine front line.