British Jazz Awards 2015

We are pleased to announce that Clare has been awarded Jazz Vocalist 2015 in the British Jazz Awards.

“Many, many thanks to everyone that voted for me in the Jazz Vocalist category. I am chuffed to bits to win. It means such a lot, especially with such strong competition. Lots of love Clare xx”


Clare’s Festive Fiesta Spectacular – grab your tickets now!

Clare and her fabulous Trio’s Festive Fiesta @ Komedia Bath on Monday 21st December will be all bells and baubles! Tickets are now on sale so grab them while you can – see Live Dates for ticket details.

Click here for more dates to find out when Clare is coming to a venue near you.


**One Off** Big Band Festive Fiesta 4th December

Clare presents a special festive show at The Stables, Wavendon, which will be recorded live for broadcast on Clare’s BBC Radio 2 show on 20 December.

Her band will be conducted by world class trumpeter, composer and arranger Guy Barker. As well as a sparkling programme of classic tunes and songs with a seasonal twist, expect a few surprises along the way along with some special guests.

Tickets going quickly!


Friday Night is Music Night

Friday 2nd May on Radio 2 – more details to follow but put it in your diary now! Direct from the Cheltenham Jazz Festival.


In the Mood

I’ve just had an email from a chap called David in Leeds telling me the first swing record he heard was Jumpy Nerves by Wingy Manone, after I had a listen it got me to thinking.  Many will know Manone was an American jazz trumpeter, composer and bandleader. He was actually born Joseph but after losing an arm in a tram accident acquired the nickname Wingy – aren’t people kind.  For years Joe Venuti jazz violinist and notorious practical joker used to send his mate a single cufflink for his birthday.

I digress, so in 1930 Wingy recorded his own riff based composition Tar Paper Stomp aka Wingy’s Stomp or sometimes called Wingy’s Blues also, as I have now learned, he recorded a version in 1939 called ‘Jumpy Nerves’.  You hear the same riff (catchy bit of tune) a year later in Fletcher Henderson’s Hot and Anxious credited to Henderson’s brother Horace.

Stay with me, in 1935 saxophonist and arranger for The Mills Blue Rhythm Band Joe Garland created an arrangement of ‘Tar Paper Stomp’ and called it ‘There’s Rhythm In Harlem’.  Some time later circa 1938 he wrote In ‘The Mood’ containing that same infectious arpeggio riff Wingy Manone had recorded just five years earlier, Joe hawked it round the various bands, both Artie Shaw and Edgar Hayes recorded it with little success in fact it wasn’t till Garland pushed it under the beady eye of Glenn Miller that it took off.   Miller hired Andy Razaf to add words he did so recycling an old lyric but unwittingly for a flat fee of $200 he never earned a penny more.

Miller made a few tweaks and hit the jackpot in 1940 when it topped the Billboard Juke Box chart and stayed at number one for 13 weeks featuring in the movie Sun Valley Serenade.  Some 60 years later in 1999 ‘In The Mood’ was included in the National Public Radio’s 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century.

It’s Wingy I feel sorry for, according to copyright rules of that time, “a tune that had not been written down and registered with the copyright office could be appropriated by any musician with a good ear.”  I read that after ‘In The Mood’ became a massive hit, Manone was paid by RCA and Miller not to contest the copyright possibly putting Wingy in the slighty better mood… but still.


Good doggie!

Other than not coming back when you call, chewing visitors shoes, stealing their underwear, barking incessantly at other dogs or every time the doorbell rings or at a pigeon should it dare to walk across the patio, or marking his territory in an anti social fashion on items that don’t belong to him Alan the dog is perfect.  At 18 months his behavior wasn’t improving so when Muddy got chatting to a lady at the supermarket who recommended a local dog trainer we wasted no time making the call.

Due to our ever changing schedule we couldn’t guarantee being able to attend a specific class so opted for a private consultation instead, basically we paid someone to come to the house and tell us how rubbish we are at bringing up Alan or Prince Alan as he is now known.

The dog trainer has given us a list of rules to follow in order to successfully take Prince Alan down a peg or three till he’s been comfortably settled back into his correct position within the pack order, Muddy and I have to assert ourselves to be the leaders.  All common sense really – where did we go wrong?

For the next few months HRH has to earn all his food by demonstrating good behavior, knowing his willful temperament we were initially fearful he might starve to death.  Each morning we prepare his food for the day and store it in his special treat bag always making sure each of us has a clicker to hand at all times then whenever he does something good he gets a bit of chicken and a click from the clicker, this means greasy meat hands for the foreseeable future, but we’re both happy do it if it helps.

The reward click system takes a bit of getting used to it’s not unlike patting your head and rubbing your tummy, initially I could have been mistaken for a castanet wielding flamenco dancer but with a bit of practice am getting the hang of it.

It’s been a week of change for Alan he’s baring up very well although he’s still grumpy about not being able to sleep on the bed anymore and now glowers at me from his big cushion.

As I type wafts of chicken are emanating from my greasy keyboard but hopefully he’ll soon be rid of the bad habits we’ve instilled in him.


A pair of…

There we were just thinking we couldn’t remember the last time we’d been to a party when bosh or rather ding an email arrived inviting us to celebrate twins Laura and Emma’s 40th birthday, the invite came with a fancy dress twin themed warning – “Come dressed as a pair of something! Anything from socks to Cagney & Lacey!”

Salt and pepper was the first thing that popped into my head, followed by a pair of gloves, trousers, followed by an actual pear indeed, I would have been more than happy to go as Cagney or Lacey as it had been one of my favourite TV shows as a kid.  As we were working the next day we wanted something that would be easy both to wear and that we’d be happy to walk through town wearing without people pointing.

Mud on the other hand had just one idea, which made her laugh for at least a week.  “I bet nobody else will go as a pair of those.” “No Mud you’re most probably correct but there’s a reason for that.”  No matter what else I suggested she still came back to her initial thought and laughed for another week, but how on earth were we going to make this costume?

The invite had coincided with a visit from bass player Simon and girlfriend Jess who happens to be a wardrobe mistress.  I have to say most of the conversation was taken up with design and construction of our costume. In the end she thankfully offered to make it for us.

A week before the party Jess met us at Radio 2 on a Sunday to hand over the goods and to have a fitting. It certainly made producer Cali laugh almost as much as Mud.  The costume only worked if we stood side by side and due to a height difference, various heel combinations were necessary. Muddy died a couple of pale pink long sleeved T-Shirts in coffee till they matched the fabric.

We got dressed at a friend’s house round the corner and walked to the party concealed under two ponchos.   Muddy was absolutely right – there was a salt and pepper, cow boys and Indians, Ying and Yang, Emma Peel and Steed everything you could think of but yes we were the only pair you would expect to find encased, albeit modestly, in a bejeweled black bra.


More diets!

Week 10 of the diet was going to plan, however an invitation to dinner from our friends Rosie and Yaz put a stop to that.   I’ll be honest weeks 5 through 10 had been rubbish in that despite sticking to my meager 1200 calories a day I didn’t lose any weight – NOTHING.  After much frantic internet research I discovered this miserable state of body affairs is called ‘plateauing’.   From what I understand through reducing your calorie intake to that of a dormouse, your metabolic rate slows to that of a sloth.  There are two ways to get it shifting again one is to bump up the exercise the other is to eat more for a few days.

It will come as no surprise to learn which route I took!  Of course had I not been ill with a cold for two weeks I would have been running from Britain but surprisingly I found that eating more comes very naturally to me.

Rosie is a ridiculously talented cook who can throw things together in a flash one of those irritating people who can make mayonnaise from scratch and everything in fact we’ve applied for her to go on masterchef… she doesn’t know it yet, anyway her tapas style starters were awesome, homemade cannellini bean hummus with lime, garlic, coriander and olive oil, baked manchego cheese with honey, wonderful little chorizo nibbley things with roasted salted almonds, great olives and a crusty artisan loaf.

Main course was succulent chicken thighs in a mystical rich sauce using preserved lemons, fluffy cous cous with overtones of dukkah – if case you’ve yet to try it dukkah is a delicious aromatic mix of nuts and seeds – baked aubergines with a herbed yogurt and pomegranate dressing and I think a fresh green salad but the four beers left over from New Year’s Eve did somewhat cloud my memory.

Muddy had baked her sweet potato chocolate brownies for desert, they sound weird but taste great and I had attempted a raspberry, ginger and orange coulis to go with them, which sounds nice but tasted weird or at least mine did although with a big dollop of crème fresh it all came together ok.

Gingerly, I stepped on the scales Bizarrely, despite eating more than I had since the beginning of January, I hadn’t put on any weight. In fact, thanks to Rosie, I actually lost another 2 pounds.


Ivy Benson and her singer

Parking outside Radio 2 last Sunday evening, a private car pulled up in front of us and a woman with blondish hair jumped out and sort of skipped/jogged into the building Muddy whispered, “I think that’s your interview.”   “Nah. It can’t be, the lady I’m interviewing is 90 in August.”

Joyce Terry (nee Clark) had been singing in Southport one evening in 1942 when Ivy Benson, famed all girl bandleader headlining at the theatre across the way, walked in and hired her on the spot, the 18 year old then stayed with band for the next five years.

I am passionate about preserving the memory and accomplishments of this inspirational woman,  who despite the misogynistic back biting and discrimination of the time fought on to become the BBC’s resident band in 1943, top of the bill at the London Palladium for 6 months in 1944 and the first band to be invited to play at the VE Day celebrations in Berlin 1945. Later that year on Christmas Day she performed a live concert from Hamburg broadcast to the British nation directly after the King’s speech. A favourite of ENSA Ivy and her girls toured Europe and the Middle East as part of the war effort raising morale wherever they went. Ivy passed away aged 79 in 1993 having led her band for 43 years.

If attitudes towards female musicians weren’t tough enough Ivy was constantly losing her girls to the charms of various dashing servicemen she later said “I lost seven in one year to America. Only the other week a girl slipped away from the stage. I thought she was going to the lavatory but she went off with a G.I. Nobody’s seen her since.”

Ivy offered financial independence to women musicians at a time when there were startlingly few platforms for them to be heard, she hired only the best including the legendary trumpeter Gracie Cole who eventually left Ivy to join George Evans Band to play lead trumpet unheard of at that time.

Incidentally the youthful sprightly woman spotted earlier was singer Joyce Terry. Joyce came on the show to talk about “Sax Appeal” a great new documentary on The Ivy Benson Band which aired last Monday evening on Radio 2.  Full of stories and anecdotes Joyce will definitely be back soon. “Sax Appeal”‘ will be available on the iPlayer for the next 30 days.