Skip to content

A Stunning Tribute!

A packed Cavendish Hall was treated to a fantastic musical tribute to the late Dudley Moore by the James Pearson Trio, in Peak Music’s penultimate concert of the 2023-24 season.

Many people fondly remember Dudley Moore as the little man in the mac alongside Peter Cook in their television series, and later as a major Hollywood comedy star, but he was also one of the foremost jazz pianists of his era, so precocious that he was invited to join the famous John Dankworth band while still a student.

Very fitting then, that James Pearson, one of the foremost jazz pianists of our era, should lead this sparkling tribute, displaying his own wizardry and incredible versatility. His trio, with bassist Sam Burgess and drummer, Derbyshire-born Ed Richardson, each a major talent in their own right, were on form from the opening number where, in true jazz egalitarian spirit, the sidemen were able to shine with dazzling solos.

James revealed that Dudley Moore’s chief influences were Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner, both evident in the theme from Beyond the Fringe, the comedy revue where Moore first found fame, and the band captured the bluesy feel to perfection. Next up was the Cole Porter standard I Love Paris from Moore’s first album, followed by Dudley Dell, a Moore composition well known as the theme from Radio 4’s panel game Quote Unquote.

Further Moore compositions followed, interspersed with stories from his life. On Song for Suzy, written for Moore’s first wife, the actress Suzy Kendall (from Belper!), James bravely took on Moore’s high falsetto style of singing. Waterloo, a composition with a bossa nova feel, was preceded by James giving his impression of a Cocktail bar pianist – “They play meaningless music, but if they stop, the bar feels like a library”.

It’s Easy to Say, from the film 10, featured Sam Burgess playing his double bass with a bow, and he continued to impress by featuring in the trio’s version of The Swan from Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals. This concluded with James disappearing under the piano in true Dudley Moore comic style. Just in case we were not impressed enough with the band’s versatility, they performed a thrilling version of Moore’s And the Same to You, written when he was a student, supposedly in the style of Beethoven, but here seemingly in the style of every composer and every pianist you’ve ever heard,

The final rendition of Arthur’s Theme, with melodic bass and pinpoint percussion typified the performance, with three top musicians on top form and apparently enjoying themselves as much as the audience.

Categorized: Uncategorized