Caught A Touch Of Your Love
One of the great ironies of music is that the jazz scene gives a home to some types who a/ think they know what jazz is and what it is not – viz. the self-appointed arbiters of what should be acceptable as ‘jazz music’ and b/ just will not listen to anything at all outside their perceived boundaries. Losers in every sense, cutting themselves off from new experiences and (worse) frowning at those of more liberal disposition. To me, jazz is about improvisation, not playing or singing the same piece the same way next time, the interplay of performers, sharing what results. It is music that shouldn’t be gathering dust or hived off into ghettos of snobbery…
Hence all the more reason to treasure and encourage artists like Jenny Green. She has the ability to make songs swing, melodies float and rhythms grip. Moreover the skill to deliver a lyric with a freshness many would envy. Our Jen teaches, performs, fronts groups, collaborates and even runs jazz get-togethers firing up young and old, veteran and novice to get up and make music together. Some of us players like to explore a love for jazz at her soirees whilst playing shows elsewhere in distinctly different musical areas ; others have established themselves as jazz performers and don’t venture beyond associated venues or audiences. Whatever your approach, jams such as Jenny’s are an entirely positive force and enrich the scene – many is the time I have taken people who ‘don’t like jazz’ to a JG show and they have enjoyed virtually all of the acts, admitting so afterwards.
Green’s previous release displayed her versatility and so does this new set. She is skilled at singing popular music and does so in public eg Van Morrison, Beatles, Petula Clark and some times to these ears when in jazz vein seems to be as musically influenced by instrumental players as by other singers, for instance the way she might sustain a note or phrase just as a sax player would or even deliver with a touch of the percussionist’s swaying pace or a staccato influence. Not that this would be by design, Jenny is just a natural and gimmick-free singer. There is no Bassey overkill, no Streisand flared-nostril camping. Best of all, Green’s style is not modelled on any particular performer. She has heard it all and has a limitless choice of approach. Luckily for her, her singing sits well on all types of instrumentation
On this collection, Sean Hargreaves’ production and arrangements seem to aim at a ‘picture frame’ ambience, creating a backdrop over which Jenny can make the lyric happen and the melodies roll. No shocks or surprises, no bombast. What results is listenable, smooth in the good sense of making linear sense but avoiding any OTT touches and…. satisfyingly rich
Highlights include the Lena Horne-tinged pumping blues of ‘Hum Drum Blues’, such a Noo Yawk horn chart and swaggering Winston Clifford drums plus a Hargreaves piano break ; the knowing reading of ‘You Turned The Tables On Me’ with its Latin cadences and well-paced Neville Malcolm bass. The horn and reed players – Bryan Corbett, Ed Jones, Duncan Lamont and Trevor Myers sound particularly pokey on the title cut which has a Horace Silver roll about it and has maybe the best vocal performance on the record offset by a smokey sax outing, the piano playing across time. The old pop hit ‘The More I See You’ is taken at a very leisurely tempo and very Grover Washington sax sound. Thus it is a more reflective take on the song than the usual snappy run. Should definitely have used a Rhodes or Wurlitzer keyboard here though, to take the chill off the chord progression, methinks. The breezy ‘Let’s Get Lost’ is my favourite cut here and Jenny makes this work so well, an irresistible invitation of a song. Green on a Bacharach tune is always going to work – here we get ‘Always Something There To Remind Me’ and from the crisp drum intro this works a treat, try keeping your toes still……outro number is Rodgers & Hart’s ‘This Funny World’ no less and gets a subtle and subdued setting …that works.
So – a well-produced jazz vocal record not stuffed with cliché song choices and sung sweetly and emphatically by one the scene’s true characters. If this sounds like your stop – jump on !