Jazz CD Reviews – Jan

 

Jazz CD- Provenance

Provenance

Vince Jones – vocals, flumpet and composition

Paul Grabowsky – piano and composition ABC Music

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Provenance is a new ballad album from two legends of the Australian jazz scene that showcases the superlative craftsmanship of platinum selling vocalist Vince Jones and multi ARIA winning pianist Paul Grabowsky. Jones and Grabowsky first worked together in the 1980s when Grabowsky was musical director to Jones. The CD release Provenance marks a renewed collaboration between the pair after several decades apart, but the title also describes the music which the duo chose to record i.e. ballads that showcase the essential elements and ownership of their craft – elements that have been the foundations of their astonishing careers – pared down to an intimate combination of piano and voice with the occasional flurry of the flumpet – a hybrid of a trumpet and a flugelhorn. The album begins with Rainbow Cake composed by the pair in the 1980s, which has Jones’ voice and flumpet in fine form on a composition well familiar to him from its many performances, and accompanied by a graceful piano solo from his co-composer, Grabowsky. It’s just pure gold! Oh My Love composed by John Lennon and Yoko Ono takes on a new and touching poignancy with Jones’ and Grabowsky’s rendition, and from there onwards the album glides effortlessly through a variety of classic songs from numerous genres with We’ve Only Just Begun, Stella By Starlight, This is Always and If You Never Come To Me as well as the beautiful original co-composition with pianist/musical director Matt McMahon, Between Your Eyes. A great singer tries to capture the very heart of the song, achieving what the songwriter presumably intended – namely the elevation of the text through harmony and melody. Vince Jones does just that and has that ability by being a true romantic and a Gaelic soul man. Perhaps on this album, with its timeless songs, faultless pianoforte and beautiful melodies, it will touch your soul.

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Jazz CD- Shoeless...

Shoeless & the Girl

Theo Jackson – vocals, piano

Huntly Gordon – double bass

Marco Quarantotto – drums, percussion

Nathaniel Facey – alto saxophone

Leo Richardson – tenor saxophone

Quentin Collins – flugelhorn

Dot Time Records

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London’s Daily Telegraph described Theo Jackson as “one of the most interesting jazz vocalists and composers to emerge on the British scene in recent years”. The young British jazz vocalist first came to prominence at London’s 606 Jazz Club a few years back, and since then has continued to develop his craft by performing at a number of prestigious venues including Pizza Express in Soho, The Rye Jazz Festival, and the EFG London Jazz Festival. Shoeless And The Girl is Jackson’s second full-length album and consists of eight original compositions, inspired by characters he has observed and their themes of loneliness; and by two Wayne Shorter compositions – Footprints and Wild Flower – both of which have been reimagined by Jackson and producer Giazonne Reyes. Jackson’s music is clearly influenced by mainstream pop and soul artists, but this album couldn’t be described as anything other than a jazz recording, full of memorable vocal phrasing and slick instrumental finesse from this pianist/singer/songwriter and his core trio companions Australian double bassist Huntly Gordon and percussionist Marco Quarantotto, plus alto saxophonist Nathaniel Facey blowing up a storm on the standout track Little Do You Know, and a flugelhorn cameo from Quentin Collins on the title track. This is mostly a trio album of style and substance. There’ll be no disappointment for lovers of vocal jazz desiring melody with engaging lyrics and a voice with resonance and lucidity.

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Jazz CD-Coming Foth...

Coming Forth By Day

Cassandra Wilson

Legacy Recordings

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This recording features 11 re-interpretations of The Great American Songbook associated with Billie Holiday (both “standards” and Holiday originals) plus Cassandra Wilson’s original Last Song (For Lester), conceived as an homage from Billie to her musical soulmate, Lester Young. Wilson recorded the album in Los Angeles at the Seedy Underbelly studios with guitarists T Bone Burnett and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the rhythm section from The Bad Seeds – drummer Thomas Wydler and bassist Martyn P. Casey. This is not jazz as we know it! Wilson’s interpretations of Billie’s much lauded classics possess originality, with a few very brief improvisational solos, but the appeal of her re-imaginings and her vocal style are not what’s typical of jazz vocals, and may be extremely limited both with her fans and in jazz circles. There are ten standards and one original on this well-trodden path, sadly proving that it is a difficult task to ‘make the old new again’ effectively without gimmicks.

While All of Me, These Foolish Things and I’ll Be Seeing You, are the most traditional like pieces, with Wilson’s low register employed to the very maximum, why give the Van Dyke Parks string treatments to You Go To My Head, The Way You Look Tonight and What a Little Moonlight Can Do when they seem excessive and out of context to the rest of the album? Good Morning Heartache is five minutes of the most excruciating version of The Great American Songbook classic, and along with Billie’s Strange Fruit, (almost unrecognisable with its rock band re-imagining) is the final nail in the coffin of this album’s drawn-out death. Wilson may have alienated the many fans of her intended vocal soulmate, and unhappily even her own captured, adoring audience, by being a little too clever with something that didn’t need fixing. Sigh… I think Billie would shudder.

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