A finger-clicking, foot-tapping musical delight

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To prove you can’t get enough of a good ‘swing’, and by popular request, The Virtuoso Jazz Trio paid a return visit to the St George’s Lunchtime Concerts with a record number in attendance.

George Macdonald (clarinet), James Birkett (guitar) and Tony Abel (bass) performed an hour of jazz, including many old standards and favourites.

Beginning with After You’ve Gone, demonstrating intricate fingering and playing from both George and James, and solidly supported by Tony, the trio went on to two Gershwin favourites, Lady be Good and Somebody Loves me.

These two contrasting numbers provided both the laid back, plaintive style especially suited to George’s expertise, and the scintillating, dynamic, fast flowing, playing, passed from instrument to instrument to the delight of the audience, at which the trio excels. This resulted in a truly masterful performance.

The ever popular Somewhere Over the Rainbow was a magical moment, profiling the clarinet’s superb tonal quality and played with complete understanding of the lyrics.

This was followed by the cool Latin rhythms of Night and Day, where the finger-clicking and foot-tapping from the audience were clearly audible. I Got Rhythm was frantically fast flowing and totally secure, demonstrating the supreme ease with which these three musicians perform together, and particularly profiling James’ virtuosity and skill.

The haunting mellifluous melody A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square was perfectly captured by George’s wonderful tonal quality and expressive playing, with James’ variations taking the performance to another dimension whilst Tony’s bass added depth and quality to the whole.

George Macdonald, leader of the trio and former principal clarinet for Northern Sinfonia, entertained with humorous anecdotes about the lives of such greats as Benny Goodman, George Gershwin, Ronnie Scott and others.

This was yet another excellent concert in the St George’s Lunchtime Concert series.

The next will be on May 11, from 12.30pm to 1.30pm, and will feature violinist Iona Brown and cellist Nick Byrne, principal players with the Royal Northern Sinfonia. Doors open at noon and admission is £3 at the door.

Gillian Irvine