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A showcase for jazz talent, old and new; jazz.

Byline: BY RICHARD PHILLIPS

JUST where do music stars go to relax after performing in Liverpool? If it is a Monday night, many of them head for the Liverpool Jazz Club in Victoria Street.

The once-a-week club housed at Metro has been attracting some big names since it opened nearly three years ago, among them The Coral, Busted, McFly, Natasha Hamilton, The Stylistics and Ian Broudie.

Some just go to listen to the live jazz, others to jam with the house band and some get up and sing. Ex-Eastenders Shane Ritchie was one who wanted to sing but was sadly advised against it by his manager. "You haven't rehearsed anything," he was told firmly.

Recently, the entire backing band of Corrine Bailey Rae arrived the night before their Summer Pops concert and jammed into the small hours. For club founder and keyboards player David Fishel it is proof that his vision of a club featuring jazz from swing to bop was something Liverpool was sadly lacking.

But it is not just the established stars who have made the club their own.

The latest singer to be discovered is 25-year-old Ali Singleton, a singer who had never performed in public before. Fishel says she is a sensation.

It was the reason for my visit to the club this week where things were indeed swinging.

Fishel was in all-action style on his electric keyboard with Keith Small providing solid support on electric bass and drummer Dave Joseph (an experienced veteran who once played at the Wookey Hollow) cutting up a storm on drums.

After a couple of Duke Ellington numbers, the drop-in musicians joined them on stage. Trumpeter Steve Parry (who can normally be seen as music director for the touring Blues Brothers show) played beautifully on Summertime, saxophonist Paul Leonard played bebop at full strength and house singer and hostess Tricia Liedel ran through a delightful version of Cheek to Cheek.

Also dropping by on his way to a gig was Motown singer Marvin Ruffin (part of the family which produced David Ruffin of The Temptations and Jimmy Ruffin) and he got up to deliver a couple of blistering soul numbers with guest musicians joining the band.

It was quite a night. But newcomer Ali Singleton was not to be outshone.

In her first set she worked her way through two numbers, Turn Me On featured by Norah Jones and If I Was Your Woman, an Alicia Keyes song.

Her country-blues voice with an intriguing catch in it was perfect.

There was certainly something about the singer which made her stand out from the crowd.

Born in Litherland where she still lives, Ali explained in an interval break that she had always sung but not in quite the way she does today. In fact, aged ten she won a holiday talent contestt.

But she still thought about singing even when doing other jobs including working at Vivienne Westwood's shop in Liverpool. The breakthrough came when she auditioned for the Orange Music Experience, a crash course held at the Lighthouse in Anfield. Fishel, however, was also a judge and heard Ali sing and was mightily impressed.

"He invited me down to the jazz club but it was a long time before I got up on stage," she says. "I was nervous and my first number Misty was a bit of a disaster."

But with Fishel's advice - "he would bring me CDs of other singers" - Ali made a quick return and has since become a club favourite.

Fishel is convinced she has a bright future. "She's a star in the making," he tells me. "She didn't know she could sing jazz but that's what she does." Ali admits: "I have found my voice."

Today she even sings Ray Charles numbers and Fishel recorded her version of You Don't Know Me and sent it to BBC Radio Merseyside which featured it regularly. "My mother would call me and say, 'you're on again!'" says Ali.

Fishel thinks it part of his responsibility in running the club to nurture new talent. On the night I was there a woman was singing for the first time while another woman - who gave up a singing career 20 years ago to become a church minister - had turned up to perform Fly Me to the Moon. A guitarist was also due to guest.

Liverpool-born Fishel was in London for many years where he worked with Malcolm McLaren (he led the search for a lead singer for the band Bow Wow Wow) and became a session musician specialising in synthesisers. He then became a music journalist and broadcaster on NRK ("the BBC of Norway").

After 21 years he returned to Liverpool and in September 2003 opened the Liverpool Jazz Club. Last Monday's session was the 147th during which over 300 musical guests have appeared.

But the club is not a money-making project and Fishel has found problems landing a steady job. He now has an Italian girlfriend and is considering relocating to Italy. "I have given it until next April when my road tax runs out," he says. But whatever happens, he says the club will go on. "Of course it will, it's my baby."

When I left, shortly after midnight, things were still swinging. "We keep going until 2am," explained the ever active Fishel.

THE club this week also began a Tuesday night session at the Village Inn pub in Quarry Street, Woolton

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Ali Singleton at the Liverpool Jazz Club in Metro, Victoria Street
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 4, 2006
Words:916
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