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Review: Fife Jazz Festival

Joe Stilgoe

Joe Stilgoe

Byre Theatre, St Andrews

Rob Adams

He's a charmer, is Joe Stilgoe, and while the singer-pianist might not be everyone's idea of a jazz festival headlining artist, he certainly knows how to entertain an audience.

There are aspects of jazz in Stilgoe's work - his voice at its highest and lightest is reminiscent of Chet Baker and his trio can hit a purposeful swinging rhythm - but the main business of his appearance at the Byre Theatre, which made a welcome return to action specially to host Fife Jazz Festival events, was to showcase his latest project, Songs On Film.

Stilgoe is, by his own admission, a movie nerd and his enthusiasm for the genre is conspicuous in his introductions of songs and their filmic origins. Opening with an instrumental jump-cut medley of cartoon themes, he went on to insert his own songs, including the catchy Popcorn with its images of what made a cinema visit special for the young Stilgoe, alongside numbers that achieved starring roles in their own right - Blue Skies and Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head - and other less prominent ones that deserved higher billing, such as That's The Way It Crumbles Cookie-Wise from The Apartment.

Dream A Little Dream Of Me found Stilgoe in a relaxed duet with double bassist Tom Farmer and if his segue from S'Wonderful into What a Wonderful World was a little cheesy, his staccato updating of The Way You Look Tonight brought newfound energy to a well-worn standard before his stitching of audience requests into an impressively seamless Jurassic Park-Chariots of Fire-Last Of The Mohicans et al theme song scored high on the mirthful improvisation register.

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