Chris Ingham Quartet – ‘Hoagy II’: An Artful Presentation of Delights
The Chris Ingham Quartet returns to the timeless songwriting magic of Hoagy Carmichael in their latest album, Hoagy II. Pianist and vocalist Chris Ingham, alongside his talented band, presents a well-curated collection of songs that showcases Carmichael’s incredible range and depth as a composer. The album includes classics such as Lazy River, The Nearness Of You, and Heart And Soul, providing an instant sense of familiarity and class.
The Quartet: A Harmonious Blend
The quartet consists of Ingham’s long-time rhythm players Rev Andrew J Brown on double bass and drummer George Double, joined by Paul Higgs on trumpet. Brown, now a Unitarian minister in Cambridge, and Double regularly perform with Ingham at Bury St Edmunds’ Hunter Club. Paul Higgs, known for his work with groups such as the NYJO and the Royal Shakespeare Company, lends a fantastic sound to the album, echoing the lightness and agility of Carmichael’s great friend cornetist Bix Beiderbecke.
A Glittering Career: Hoagy Carmichael
Hoagland Howard Carmichael (1899-1981) was one of the finest songwriters and composers of his age. Working with lyricists like Johnny Mercer, Frank Loesser, Ned Washington, and Harold Adamson, Carmichael’s career spanned multiple decades with hits like Georgia, Stardust, and My Resistance Is Low. Hoagy II highlights not only his knack for jaunty, witty tunes but also, more memorably, his way with a ballad.
Memorable Tunes: From Lighthearted to Heartfelt
Don’t Forget To Say No, Baby is a catchy opener with clever wordplay and a light-hearted take on wartime infidelity. The Monkey Song, from the 1952 movie The Las Vegas Story, tells the unlikely tale of King Rebop, a drumming monkey, and a missionary, while Jubilee, used by Louis Armstrong in the 1938 Mae West movie Every Day’s A Holiday, showcases Carmichael’s swinging tunes.
However, it’s in the slower songs that Carmichael truly captures the human condition. (Up A) Lazy River is given a stride treatment with a languid chorus, and Rockin’ Chair, an end-of-life reflection, became a staple of Louis Armstrong’s All-Stars repertoire. The Nearness Of You, one of the greatest songs of all time, showcases the band’s ability to balance tension and emotion.
First-Class Performances and Varied Arrangements
The album features exceptional performances, interesting arrangements, and an impressive variety. The rhythm section shines on the instrumental I Walk With Music, a joyous uptempo swinger. Hoagy II is set to be a fantastic post-gig souvenir as Chris Ingham tours it around the UK in the coming months. Anyone interested can purchase the album now on Chris Ingham’s Bandcamp and check out his upcoming gigs.