Review: Zoe Rahman and Cubana Bop at Marlborough Jazz Festival

Written by Peter Davison.

Rowland Sutherland with Zoe RahmanRowland Sutherland with Zoe RahmanJazz Festival Sunday is a chance to nurse sore heads and sore feet, and Marlborough's Priory Gardens was the perfect place to do both, with half of the audience opting to sit under the shade of the trees in the walled garden, rather than inside the giant festival marquee itself.

First up was contemporary jazz pianist Zoe Rahman. Zoe is from the school of 'learn the rules of music with some classical training (in her case at the Royal Academy of Music) before you break them (at the Berklee College of Music, where she studied jazz performance).

Rahman plays the kind of technically-proficient jazz that can be heard in concert halls, like the Wiltshire Music Centre, where she's performed with Courtney Pine. Pine appears on her 2013 MOBO Award-winning album Kindred Spirits, but taking up jazz flute duties today is the very talented Rowland Sutherland.

She's also joined on stage by double bass player Alec Dankworth (of the famous jazz dynasty), and their soothing sounds are just the job on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Zoe RahmanZoe RahmanZoe Rahman talks to the crowdZoe Rahman talks to the crowdJazz flute from Rowland SutherlandJazz flute from Rowland SutherlandAlec DankworthAlec Dankworth

Paul RobertsPaul RobertsWrapping up the festival is Cubana Bop. Band leader Terry Seabrook has arranged what are billed as Bernstein-Sondheim originals with a distinctly Latin twist.

Asking audience members not to film or record the set, Seabrook explains there have been licensing problems.

Can we even tell you which famous Bernstein-Sondheim musical the songs in Cubana Bop's set are from? Maybe not, but we can say that the originals have a Latin twist to begin with, and that the highlights include renditions of Tonight, Maria, America, I Feel Pretty, and A Boy Like That.

Anyway the songs in Jazz on the Latin Side are belted out with gusto by Jo Marshall (formerly of the Swingle Sisters) and Paul Roberts, who has terrific stage presence, a voice like Frank Sinatra and used to front post-punk band The Stranglers.

We spent an enjoyable two hours in the presence of Cubana Bop, and hopefully those licensing issues will be sorted out soon, and they'll be able to proudly announce that the songs are taken from the 1957 Broadway musical (and 10-times Academy Award-winning movie of the same name) W...

Cubana Bop playing the hits of a musical they're not allowed to mentionCubana Bop playing the hits of a musical they're not allowed to mentionJo MarshallJo Marshall