Everybody wanted to play. Jamie Cullum, Carleen Anderson, Liane Carroll, Claire Martin, Ian Shaw, Natalie Williams, Salena Jones, Polly Gibbons, Rick Astley and Ray Gelato were only some of the jazz stars paying homage to the popular drummer killed in a road accident at 39 seven weeks ago, and helping to raise money for his widow and three young children.
Compered sensitively by pianist James Pearson, the music started at around 8pm and was still burning at midnight, as fans paying £100 a head were treated to non-stop jazz of exceptional quality. Everyone played with unusual passion for a benefit night, as though Dagley’s spirit were driving them on. Carroll sang magnificently and scatted like a demon. Cullum and Williams duetted ecstatically, as did Claire Martin and Ian Shaw.
Applauded by Chris’s family, Astley made tidy work of Cheek to Cheek before soulful balladry from Salena Jones (Everything Must Change) and Polly Gibbons (For All We Know), nimbly assisted by guitarists Jim Mullen, Phil Robson and Nigel Price. Yet Carleen Anderson’s lyric cut deepest: “If this was a perfect world/Chris Dagley would still be owning the stage/and amazing us all with the way that he played.”
Her sweet-voiced requiem said it all.
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