Spent two hours in a darkened theatre on one of the hottest days of the year on Wednesday. It was in a good cause though to see the dynamic duo of Claire Martin, jazz singer supreme, and Richard Rodney Bennett, 75 this year and still pouring out his love of the standard songbook.
Songs he learned as a boy listening to the radio; for him the music came first the words later. This is their seventh year of touring, featuring in particular the songs of Irving Berlin. Who apparently wasn't too keen on other songwriters, and wondered why it took two people to compose words and lyrics.
In his lifetime he composed 15,000 songs - yes I know that seems a staggering amount. He set himself to compose a song a day(words and music). So no waiting around for the muse to visit him; instead it was discipline and steady work that produced the phenomenal results.(and the fortune)
The duo treated the songs with the respect they deserved without behaving as if they were museum pieces. Despite the soaring temperatures we spent an afternoon in the coolly swinging world of classic songs. I love the sheer audacity of some of the rhymes all the lyricists of this period choose. Such elegance and off the wall wit.
Co-incidentally just before I wrote this entry, I read about Colin Dexter whose birthday is this week. Same message from him. Even if he thought the words were dreadful, he still wrote every day.