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Ian Shaw - Drawn to All Things - Jazz Review

01 May 2006
Jazz Review
Garry Booth

Neither fans of Joni Mitchell nor followers of jazz singer Ian Shaw will be disappointed by this "tribute" album. Quite sensibly, Shaw has chosen a suite of Mitchell classics rather than going for the diary-based confessionals of records like "Hejira", or other obvious jazz-oriented pieces such as those of "Mingus". (Interesting factoid: Mitchell hired Mike Gibbs to arrange "Hejira" and it featured uber-bass player Jaco Pastorius, among other notable jazzers). Plus, Shaw has kept to the spirit and the letter of the song. Indeed, the album has a rather endearing stars-in-their-eyes quality.
Shaw is a big Joni fan. He discovered Mitchell as a teenager and made an instant connection with the Canadian singer's heart on the sleeve, confessional songs. By his own admission, they still "shake his bones". His approach in singing the numbers is to retain a Joni-esque sense of phrasing. His voice too, has that same wispy, elusive timbre. The arrangements, designed for a classic trio format, stick to the structure of the originals. There are strings, and occasional horns, but it isn't a big production number and, though Guy Barker and the other guys deliver some polished solo spots, the overall sound is tastefully measured.
My only slight misgiving is that Joni Mitchell's songs examine what she called the anatomy of love crime from a woman's point of view. As a result, some of the pieces and the lyrics miss the target coming from a guy.
Maybe, for his next album, Shaw should take inspiration from Mitchell and unlock his own diary for inspection?
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