Lisa Scott was introduced by her venue manager as having ‘been here for many, many a Fringe’, and Scott is indeed showing her age as a performer. This shouldn’t be a bad thing. Many jazz musicians become progressively more accomplished until the day they die, developing a richer and more complex relationship with their material through each performance. Lisa Scott has not.
I love jazz, I love blues and I found this show profoundly depressing. To a certain extent it does what it says on the tin; Lisa Scott does sing some jazz and blues standards. The set falls heavily on the accessible side of mainstream: ‘Summertime’, ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ et cetera. Scott’s singing is generally in tune, though entirely colourless (ignoring the occasional mid-line Louis Armstrong growl). The band is competent, but not to a professional level. ‘Summertime’ was drenched in an outdated and unpleasant keyboard synth effect. The sax solo on ‘Cry Me A River’ was soul-cripplingly dull, following the sung head’s melody line almost exactly note for note.
Each song sounded like it had been played the same way, year after year, until everything resembling joy and spontaneity was dead. In one of her few moments of conversation with the audience (Scott was generally taciturn between songs) she made a passing reference to ‘getting it wrong’ while apologising for ‘doing it differently to how we did it before.’ This made me sad. Trying to do things differently (and enjoying getting them wrong in the process) is surely what jazz, and music, and life are all about. One particularly striking moment came when Scott began to introduce the next number and her keyboardist brusquely corrected her mid-introduction, before she could begin singing the wrong song. Apparently he had to interrupt her, otherwise (God forfend!) the order of the setlist might change. Both songs were on the list already. Next to each other, in fact. The sheet music for both was already open on the keyboard, but even the possibility of an impromptu decision brought the show screeching to a halt.
Scott is evidently a pleasant person. Her set ran to time, and was performed without obvious mistakes. She is clearly popular among her audience of friends and locals; the group behind me, having spotted my reviewer’s lanyard, began to whisper “that was phenomenal!” as loudly as they could. But I see no reason why anyone who is not a friend or family member of Scott’s should ever pay to see her perform.