Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Trudy Kerr - Carol Kidd - René Marie

Trudy Kerr My Old Flame (Jazzizit JITCD 0228)  *  Trudy Kerr & Ingrid James Reunion (Jazzizit JITCD 1054)
The first of these CDs is a very well conceived and beautifully executed tribute to Chet Baker, which draws upon the arrangements of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. Trudy and bass player Geoff Gascoyne have crafted intelligent, melodic and subtly swinging charts that recapture the grace of the originals while simultaneously making their own statements. Trudy's singing voice, ringing and eloquent, is ideally suited to the atmosphere and she further displays her skills with the vocalese lyrics she has written for 'Bernie's Tune' and 'Look For The Silver Lining'. Exemplary accompaniment comes from baritone saxophonist Derek Nash, pianists Phil Pesket and Steve Melling, and drummer Sebastiaan De Krom. Also on hand for two duets with Trudy is veteran Georgie Fame. The second CD presents Trudy with an old friend from her Australian homeland, singer Ingrid James, in a fine selection of standards from the pop and jazz scenes. The two singers blend with subtle ease and once again Geoff is a key factor in supplying the framework for their graceful work.

Carol Kidd & Nigel Clark Tell Me Once Again (Linn AKD 377)
In the long gap since her last recording, Carol Kidd's vocal sound has taken on a subtle maturity that sits very well indeed with her ability to reach the heart and soul of any song she sings. Her recent return to the scene has also brought another change; now, she works in duo with the fine guitarist, Nigel Clark. As Carol's many fans will recall, she always offered a few moments during her concerts when she sang with only guitar accompaniment and the delight this brought to audiences has now been built upon with enormous success. Carol's repertoire here, as always, presents a comfortable mix of mainly standards with a few items of the best of contemporary pop. There is also an original, composed by Nigel to Carol's lyric, 'Tell Me Once Again', and very good it is too. Carol's lovely vocal sound has never been better and is superbly showcased by Nigel's fluent guitar.

René Marie How Can I Keep From Singing? (MaxJazz MXJ 109)  *  Vertigo (MaxJazz MXJ 114)  *  Live At Jazz Standard (MaxJazz MXJ 116)  *  Serene Renegade (MaxJazz MXJ 120)  *  Voice Of My Beautiful Country  (Motéma 233279)

Supremely talented, singer René Marie delivers on How Can I Keep from Singing) a pleasing mix of mainly standards with a few of her own compositions. Her daring combining of 'Dixie' and 'Strange Fruit' on Vertigo borders on the miraculous. Throughout these CDs, René delivers a striking lesson in the art of contemporary jazz singing that is thoroughly grounded in the best of the past. Impressions of her live dates can be gained from the third CD, which was recorded live at a New York club, where she offers a richly varied and always stimulating programme of songs. On the aptly titled Serene Renegade, René gives full rein to her songwriting talent. All but two of the tracks are her original songs and very good they are too.

Only a very tiny percentage of today’s jazz singers measure up to the giants of the past. René Marie is one of this distinguished minority. She always displays her credentials with seemingly effortless flair and poise; it is an inescapable fact that she is an artist to savour and admire. Central to her latest release is the suite, ‘Voice Of My Beautiful Country’ in which familiar songs central to American culture (and history and politics) are arranged by Marie, sometimes moving far from the original melodies, into a telling whole. Pointed though the lyrics of some of her songs might be, they are always melodic and overflow with invention. If you happen to have missed Marie before now, do take this opportunity to join an ever-widening audience. You won’t be sorry.


Spike Robinson
(original painting by Bruce Crowther)

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