Sarah Jane Morris in Concert
In the mid-90s I found myself in London for a few days doing a music course at Trinity College. For evening entertainment I went over to Ronnie Scott’s jazz club and found that Sarah Jane Morris was performing.
One thing I’ve noticed about her music is that often her covers are more like complete reinterpretations of the song she is covering. Nowhere is this exemplified better than on her album simply titled ‘Sarah Jane Morris’ where she covers the jazz standard Sunny and the Beatles She’s Leaving Home. At Ronnie Scott’s she didn’t sing either of these songs, but her set was filled with equally good renditions of well known, and perhaps some not quite so well known, songs, in addition to some original work as well.
One of the highlights for me was her version of Barry White’s Never Never Gonna Give You Up, which after the concert, when I had opportunity to meet her, she told me that she had wanted to release the song on an album but hadn’t been permitted (presumably the copyright holder had refused permission).
Another quite moving song was Leaves Around the Door, which I think she said Paul Weller had written for her, and can be heard on her album ‘Blue Valentine’.
At the concert I remember at the start of one song her microphone wasn’t working, possibly because the engineer hadn’t turned the mic level back up after a break. When it finally did come on, a few bars into the song, she brought the band to a halt, apologised, and said that she’d like to start the song again. Usually the rule when performing is, if something goes wrong keep going. However, this was an artistic presentation to a captive audience at one of London’s best jazz clubs. For the musicians, and at least some of the audience, missing the first few bars of a piece of music would be like missing the first few minutes of a film; some of the impact is lost.
Her backing band was first rate and the sound quality was excellent.
Perhaps best known for singing with Jimmy Summerville in ‘The Communards’ in the 80s, Sarah Jane Morris is an exceptional soloist with a lot to offer.