Anita Gillette

photograph: Brasserie Zédel

How often do we go to cabaret or a jazz club in London? In truth, not often, as the schlepp is the same as going to the theatre or opera. But I’ve been twice in the last year, to catch an autobiographical musical gig by the veteran movie, tv and stage star, Anita Gillette. The first occasion was her Irving Berlin tribute, and the second was called “After All” – of which there were two performances this past week. The venue is a great attraction, for it is part of the Corbin/King empire, a perfect-sized room called Les Crazy Coqs in their Zédel Brasserie on Sherwood Street.

We’ve come to these performances (and one other in New York, with a pair of singers) to support, cherish and cheer the piano playing and singing of one of our best family friends, Paul Greenwood. A duet with the fizzy, personable and tuneful Ms Gillette revealed that Paul has a singing register of several pleasant, firm octaves. Add this to his astonishing sight-reading abilities, plus the talent to transpose ad hoc, and I can see him doing gigs with operatic singers in much bigger places.

Last night, though, was a delight, with Ms Gillette at her best singing pieces from Showboat. Fish do “gotta swim, and birds gotta fly,” and maybe the producers ought to add a solo moment for Greenwood, as “Old Man River” is well within his range.

It’s a great night out in London, and I’ve spotted a couple of more shows I’d like to see at Les Crazy Coqs, including Kit & McConnel and Dazzling Divas on 13 November.

To this I have to add that my wife daughters, son-in-law and I had a stunningly good dinner after the show at Zédel Brasserie – including smoked herrings, spéciale de Claire oysters, roast venison, and the andouillette (which is fresh on Tuesdays, and described on the menu with all honesty as “tripe sausage”); and I had the weekly offering of veal kidneys, so perfectly cooked that I could eat them again every Tuesday.