Ian Shaw - Drawn to All Things - Jazz Times
01 May 2006Jazz Times
Even if I didn't adore the way he sings, I'd be hard pressed not to like Ian Shaw. Praised far and wide as the single greatest male jazz vocalist Britain has to offer, he remains self-effacing (particularly about his past recording accomplishments), sardonic, frankly outspoken, deliciously witty and wonderfully wise.
Now, newly signed to Linn Records, the Welshman who accurately and admirably praises Jamie Cullum for setting jazz singing free from its "dinner jacket" mould is venturing where even the boldest rarely go by serving up an entire platter of Joni Mitchell covers. Apart from a richly contented "Chelsea Morning" and a satin-lined "Both Sides Now", don't go looking for "Big Yellow Taxi", "Help Me", "Free Man in Paris" or other of the inimitable Canadian singer-songwriter's most recognisable tunes.
Instead, with his bracing blend of Mark Murphy smarts, Johnny Hartman smoothness and Mel Torme bravado, Shaw sticks primarily to the Mitchall road less traveled by lovingly, tenderly examining the intricate subtleties and vivid brushstrokes of such wondrous word paintings as "Edith and the Kingpin", "Barangrill", "Moon at the Window", "Harlem in Havana" and "Night Ride Home". Does he succeed? Suffice it to say that as a fellow Canuck who's been following Mitchell since her Yorkville coffeehouse days, I always felt that the way she handled her own material was the only way it could be properly interpreted, and none of the pop or jazz vocalists who've since tackled Mitchell tracks have shaken my belief. Until now.
Related LinksIan ShawDrawn To All Things