Versatile duo set to impress at Jazz Festival

Ian and Sarah Jane
Ian and Sarah Jane
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TWO of the most poly-chromatic performers in the business are set to grace Rye International Jazz Festival this year.

Sarah Jane Morris, is perhaps best known for singing on the Communards hit single Don’t Leave Me This Way, but she is equally at home performing a Brechtian opera with a 21 piece brass band or delivering a Tom Waits or Nick Cave numbers in her deep smoky voice.

Sarah has recorded with Marc Ribot - the guitarist who helped define the sound on Tom Waits’s classic Rain Dogs recording.

Ian Shaw has twice been voted best vocalist in the BBC Jazz Awards - quite an achievement for a man who starting his performing career as a successful stand-up comic, crafting an easy humour that still provides a bridge between him and his jazz audiences.

Sarah Jane Morris too has a background in theatre, attending stage school with the likes of French and Saunders, Rupert Everett and Kristin Scott-Thomas.

She says: “What I learned there has proved invaluable. You learn how to occupy a stage and the importance of words and lyrics in connecting with an audience.”

Ian and Sarah Jane have known each other for 25 years and are easy musical co-conspirators. Both have played together in the Jools Holland Big Band.

Ian commented: “I really love performing with another singer such as Sarah Jane, it creates a new dimension and lost of opportunities to try things.”

The pair are both familiar with Rye and have great affection for the town. Sarah Jane spent years living in St Leonards and the Old Town of Hastings and loves the area for its characters and vibrant music scene.

Ian, who is also an accomplished pianist, lives in Hythe, just along the coast from Rye and said: “It’s a great place and I am really looking forward to playing there,”

Historic St Mary’s Church provides the impressive backdrop for the Sunday evening performance on August 25.

They promise an eclectic programme which goes far beyond jazz standards and embraces their own material as well as songs by Otis Redding, Joni Mitchell and Lou Reed.

Sarah Jane commented: “It is important for us to celebrate fine living song-writers,”

Tickets are £15 and can be booked online through the festival website at They are also available at the venue on the night.