Tag Archives: Todd Gordon

My Week in Beauty

SATURDAY

I spent last week with my jazz critic’s hat on (though it was a bit warm for a beret..), as I was covering the Edinburgh Jazz Festival for Scotland’s two quality broadsheets.

However, the week got off to a glamorous start when I attended my friend Merle’s royal-themed 40th birthday party. A couple of months ago she suggested that I come as Grace Kelly and the more I thought about it, the better an idea it seemed – especially when I remembered that I have a floral-patterned, full-skirted, calf-length  Zara dress which always reminds me of the frock Grace was wearing when she was introduced to Prince Rainier. The bonus was that I could wear this to my gigs (the second of which, appropriately, was a tribute to Louis Armstrong, Grace’s co-star in High Society) and not look ridiculous. I just stuck on fancy headband as I was leaving the concert, and, voila, my Kelly look was complete.

Of course, channelling Grace Kelly in the 1950s was easy – as it’s completely inkeeping with one of my favourite looks: a natural-looking eye make-up and coral-red lips. Luckily, my favourite coral of this summer,  Estee Lauder Pure Color Longlasting Lipstick in Coral Sun  (£18; www.esteelauder.co.uk), hadn’t yet melted on Saturday. By Thursday, it had come a cropper in the Edinburgh heatwave, and it’s now un-usable. Here’s a pic of me in character; my friend, the singer and concert promoter Todd Gordon, plays the part of Frank Sinatra rather well!

TUESDAY

Beige is boring, pink is too/ Only navy nails will do … (apologies to Kay Thompson’s Think Pink song from Funny Face).

I fell in love on Tuesday, in Edinburgh …. with midnight blue nail varnish, two in particular: Dior Vernis in Tuxedo (£17.50, from August 16) and an old one that I discovered I’d never tried – Chanel Le Vernis in Blue Satin (£17.50;  for stockists call 020-7493 3836). They both look fantastic with my colouring (much better than the brownish metallic shades which are also going to be big for autumn) – and, I think, a lot more chic than black or grey. I am definitely a convert.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering who the fabulous-looking woman is in the photo – that’s an American singer by the name of Clairdee, with whom I bonded over beauty tips and style secrets (when we were supposed to be discussing jazz!). She’s got THE most amazing skin, so watch out for her recommendations and advice on this blog over the next few weeks.

WEDNESDAY

Oooh, it’s not too late – I hope – to get your mitts on the exquisite eyeshadow quartet which Chanel brought out about six weeks ago, as part of its limited edition Byzance de Chanel collection which is exclusive to its make-up studios in Frasers, Glasgow; Fenwicks, Newcastle and Selfridges, London.

Chanel Quadra Eye Shadow in Topkapi (£37) is a thing of beauty; very easy to wear and to adapt to either a low-key look or full-on glamour. Though it does seem a shame to muss up the quilted boules of colour..

I got hooked on the top two shades last week for daily wear – and plan to wear them instead of some of the (frankly, rather disappointing) autumn shades I’ve been sent …

THURSDAY

As if by magic, the perfect companion to the Topkapi quartet was also in my make-up bag for the jazz festival: the limited edition Estee Lauder Pure Color Liquid Eyeliner (£19), from its new Modern Mercury collection, is a wonder: a liquid eyeliner which is as soft as a child’s crayon, and glides across the eyelid without dragging. In fact, you barely feel it making its mark.

I’ve been using the Black Quartz shade (can’t wait to try Graphic) which has a subtle sparkle through it and provides a considerably less harsh line than the average pure black liner. Of course, you can build it up for a dramatic look, or play it down for a softer one. The only drawback is it feels a little sticky once applied – on me, anyway.

And, speaking of makeup bags: I finally broke my bad habit of finding myself with my business cards because I’ve changed handbag. My new tip? I’m keeping my business cards in my make-up bag. After all, I never leave home without it!

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Daryl Sherman

One of my favourite CDs from last year was a tribute to the songwriter Johnny Mercer by a woman who is something of  New York institution: Daryl Sherman.

She has been performing in the city’s swankiest spots for years and has amassed a phenomenal knowledge of the Great American Songbook, especially some of its lesser-read pages. On this lovely CD she was joined by such A-listers as Wycliffe Gordon, Howard Alden and Marian McPartland for a Johnny Mercer tribute with a laid-back, joyful feel to it – and with several of the lyricist’s more obscure songs (among them Little Ingenue and The Bathtub Ran Over Again) as its highlights.

Whether she’s managing to include these numbers in her repertoire during her current UK tour I’ll find out on Sunday, when she makes her debut in Glasgow (visit www.jazzinternational.co.uk for details), but with such top-notch musicians as guitarists Nigel Clark and Dave Cliff and vocalist Todd Gordon joining in the fun, I’d say there’s a good chance..

* For information on Daryl’s tour, visit www.darylsherman.com; Daryl Sherman – Johnny Mercer Centennial Tribute (Arbors Records, £12.99)

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Musicians’ Movie Talk

Over the last however-many years of interviewing and socialising with jazz musicians of all ages and backgrounds, I’ve come to notice a certain leit-motif when it comes to their interests: many of them, like me, are avid old-movie buffs.

The thought had occurred before but it was rammed home last week when I met the young jazz singer-songwriter Melody Gardot. The way this girl speaks is as eloquent as her lyric-writing, and she has a way with an analogy that Raymond Chandler would have envied. Sitting, like teenagers, on her bed in her west London hotel, we talked about fashion, nail polish – the important stuff – before going on to the problems she has overcome since she was knocked off her bike by a hit-and-run Jeep a few years ago.

I had to ask if the long, wavy, peekaboo blonde hair was inspired by one of my favourite stars, Veronica  Lake (it wasn’t), and there ensued a chat about old movies. Gardot, it turns out, is a big Groucho Marx devotee, and she certainly knows her stuff – she even launched into an impersonation of him singing in A Night at the Opera. “I love you very mucho…”  Although she has trouble remembering things, certain movie moments haven’t slipped through the sieve that is her memory- and these are mostly from Fellini and Hitchcock films.

Being an aficionado of old movies is a trait that Gardot has in common with at least two of her label-mates: the first time I interviewed the singer-pianist Diana Krall, she told me that she loved the old MGM musicals (she had just been watching Vincente Minnelli’s The Band Wagon in her hotel), and had been brought up watching classic films on TV.

There were certainly clues to her love of film in the songs that she recorded on her early albums: Dancing in the Dark (from the afore-mentioned The Band Wagon), I’ll String Along With You (My Dream Is Yours)  and  Let’s Face the Music And Dance (Follow the Fleet). Of course, old movies offer rich pickings for anyone on the look-out for great songs.

Singer Madeleine Peyroux was similarly raised on a diet of great Hollywood movies. In her case, Frank Capra had made a big impression with Mr Smith Goes to Washington – and James Stewart and Gary Cooper were her two favourite stars.

Of the Scottish jazz musicians with whom I’ve had great movie conversations, piano ace Brian Kellock and velvet-voiced singer Todd Gordon stand out; while the great American double-act of Marty Grosz (guitar) and Ken Peplowski (clarinet/tenor sax) is just as entertaining in a dinner table discussion of 1940s comedy character actors as it is onstage playing tunes from that era.

Clearly, for some of us, a love of jazz goes hand-in-hand with a love of old films. In many cases, it’s the result – initially anyway – of a parent’s influence. And let’s face it, with jazz especially, if you don’t start off being introduced to something that has perhaps been carefully chosen for you, it could well put you off for life..

Maybe the joint interest in jazz and old movies arises out of a predisposition to past pop culture – and possibly a teenage tendency towards individualism.  Who knows? All I can say is that the best conversations about old movies that I’ve had have been with jazzers. And I’m sure it’s no coincidence that my favourite jazz musicians are the ones who love the same comedy masters as me: Preston Sturges, Billy Wilder, Woody Allen, the Marx Brothers. After all, in both jazz and comedy, timing is everything…

* Read my full interview with Melody Gardot in The Herald Magazine next Saturday, June 13.

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