Review: Too Cool, Sue Richardson Quintet

Derek Ansell catches Sue Richardson's recreation of Chet Baker in 'Too Cool: The Music of Chet Baker' at Reading Concert Hall, 13 March

The music of Chet Baker was caught very smoothly at this Reading Jazz concert last Wednesday. Sue Richardson’s trumpet, flugel and voice recreated much of the Baker magic without slavish copying; her arrangements were fresh and original with good backing support from Neal Richardson on piano, George Treber on bass and Rod Young at the drums. On the Mulligan quartet selections, Neal was dispatched from his piano stool to the back of the hall as Sue, with Karen Sharp on brisk baritone, recreated some of the well-known piano-less quartet pieces.

This show was well conceived and organized, with the leader giving a running commentary between musical selections about Baker’s turbulent life, and she did not gloss over any of his many faults and tiresome behaviour. The music he produced over the years was special, though; soft focus, lyrical, but without the tension of Miles Davis’s approach.

The man’s music was fairly irresistible, even if his manner and way of life left much to be desired. Sue and Karen gave a varied and entertaining performance which was well received at the Concert Hall, and it was good to see a contemporary jazz combo headed up by an all-female front line. Too many girl leaders have been sidelined or not given the opportunities in jazz in the past (Check out The Girls in the Band on YouTube), although things are not that bad today.

This is a show to catch and you can get it in May at Ronnie Scott’s in London. Don’t miss.

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