Stars shine brightly in St Mary’s

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Madeline Peyroux

If you were lucky enough to get tickets for last weekend’s concerts you would have witnessed three fantastic performances by top-level artists who packed St Mary’s church each evening over the bank-holiday weekend.

Sergio Mendes

The legendary Sergio Mendes delivered a vibrant and colourful performance watched by a legion of avid seasoned supporters swelled by a new following of fans who, captivated by his amazing upbeat tempo took to their feet and danced the night away. The church was a sea of happy smiling faces releasing their inhibitions as they filled the aisles and danced, danced, danced until reluctantly heading home with sore feet and a very special memory.

Madeline Peyroux attracted another full house and delivered a superb performance for her adoring fans who were wowed by the clarity of her voice as she sang a number of songs from her new album, Anthem. She was joined on stage by her band of extremely talented musicians who also gave an amazing performance and were obviously enjoying the opportunity of playing in such an intimate atmosphere at such an iconic and beautiful venue. The soulful jazz continued without an interval, nobody wanted to leave their seats in any event, transfixed by the mellow sounds of a true professional whose set was enhanced further with the amazing sound and lighting provided as usual by our own John Bryant and his amazing team.

Sunday night saw the last of the three concerts which featured the legendary Jimmy Webb. To bring an artist of Jimmy’s calibre to Rye was a real coup, made possible by the relentless efforts of Ian Bowden, the festival director and producer who works tirelessly to attract the very best artists to Rye. Jimmy Webb’s songwriting repertoire is simply amazing, his songs have been covered by a glittering array of super stars across the globe. Taking centre stage he talked us through some amazing anecdotes and how through a lifetime of performing has played for an incredible who’s who of famous people and played with a stunning array of singers and musicians.

Jimmy Web with Ian Shaw

Jimmy is also a truly exceptional pianist which was so evident when he delivered an incredible performance of Macarthur Park to rapturous applause. Liane Carroll had dreamed of playing with Jimmy but unfortunately ill health prevented her joining him however the concert went ahead as planned and the incomparable Ian Shaw came on stage. What a voice, what a pianist and what a seriously talented professional who captivated the audience with an incredible performance. The concert finally came to a close but the audience had a further treat in store as Jimmy posed for photos, signed CDs and his latest book.

The positive feedback for all three concerts has been nothing but exceptional, Rye is very privileged to have such first class performers playing in such a wonderful venue. The jazz festival brings a huge amount of extra business to the town and attracts an ever increasing number of visitors year on year. Behind the scenes is a huge amount of hard work by a small but very dedicated team of volunteers which makes it all possible. Thank you to each and everyone who made these concerts possible and no doubt the forthcoming May concerts at Hever castle will be equally successful.

Image Credits: Tony Ham, Rye Jazz.

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