Barb Jungr - Shelter From The Storm - Jazz Times
With nearly two-dozen albums under her belt, Barb Jungr, Britain's foremost chansonniere, finally crossed the Atlantic for a recording session. As her debut American date took shape, she jumped at the chance to work with pianist Laurence Hobgood, marking his first major collaboration with a vocalist since his split with Kurt Elling after 22 years. Hobgood, serving more as music director than accompanist and alternating between acoustic and electric keyboards, also shaped the arrangements for all 10 tracks (12 on Linn's digital edition), demonstrating the brilliant musicianship that so richly enhanced Elling's work. Continuing the bi-continental theme, Jungr and Hobgood are joined by another Brit, bassist Michael Olatuja, and an American, percussionist Wilson Torres.
Jungr is known for her boundless affection for contemporary songwriters. That affinity continues here, with Jungr favorites Dylan, Cohen and Bowie joined by Joni Mitchell and Peter Gabriel. She also makes unexpected, though splendid, forays into classic musical theatre, adding Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Bali Hai" and Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein's "Something's Coming."
The concept is lyrical messages that can provide solace from our turbulent times. That the theme isn't always realized is immaterial. (It's difficult to consider Bowie's "Space Oddity" a song of hope, for example.) What matters is the exquisite quality of the work – their union of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" with Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" is a particular standout – its immense value heightened by three superb Jungr-Hobgood originals, including an astute nod to Nina Simone.