Adelaide Hall

Adelaide Hall’s concert at the Studio Theatre, Haymarket, Leicester, 30 January 1988

I tell the story of this concert in the Journal section of my website: here I add a few songs from that evening. The band accompanying Adelaide is a mixture of my students, staff (myself and jazz teacher Conrad Cork on sax), drummer John Runcie, who taught at Leicester University and professional pianist Mick Pyne, who I already knew and who had worked with Adelaide in the past.

The first three pieces her are from the opening of the show: the instrumental ‘Take the A Train’ with just piano, bass, drums, leading into her most famous piece, ‘Creole Love Call’ followed by ‘Getting to Know You’, and then ‘Old Fashioned Love.’

Then we have Duke Ellington’s ‘Prelude to a Kiss’ where you can hear clearly that she was Ellington’s singer: she’s got exactly that idiom so precisely. At the end of the song she touchingly acknowledges the 18 year old flute soloist, Alison Neal – Adelaide was 86 at the time!

From the second half we have the ballad ‘I got it bad and that ain’t good’ as well as the ending sequence. This comprises ‘I can’t give you anything but love’ where she gets the audience to sing along; then ‘It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing’ followed by a group of spirituals, where the audience again joins in.

We had to double the length of the play-out at the end as the applause goes on for a very long time. Whenever I listen to this recording, I can really still feel the occasion and I think that, even for someone who wasn’t there, there is a sense that something is going on, it’s quite special…


Gavin Bryars