Liane Carroll - Seaside - Jazz Views

A new recording by Liane Carroll is always a most welcome event for all lovers of great vocal jazz. It was always going to be a difficult task to surpass her last two offerings "Up And Down" and "Ballads", but this has been easily achieved and then some. This multi award winning singer and pianist is one of the brightest stars in the jazz firmament. She is highly emotive on ballads and can roar with the best as well. Totally inhabiting a song is what Liane is about. There is never any sense of insincerity about what she does, you always feel she means every word personally.

The producer on this recording is the highly proclaimed and Grammy Award nominated James McMillan who also contributes on six separate instruments during the session. The albums main theme is a reflection of the leaders childhood days in Hastings and her love of everything to do with the sea and coastline. On this album she has chosen to play piano on only four of the ten tracks , leaving space for the talents of Malcolm Edmonstone and the superb Brighton born pianist Mark Edwards. 

The album opens with the title track "Seaside" a wonderfully emotional ballad by Joe Stilgoe. This look back at a childhood on the shoreline should bring back memories to all who hear it. The use of Andy wood's euphonium in the mix gives an aural sepia feel to the sound and even reflects the family photographs inside the cd cover. Liane accompanies herself using time and space to full effect at slow tempo before winding up the delivery to torch song levels before the close. A brief up tempo version of the great standard "Almost Like Being In Love" in trio format follows  with Ian Thomas driving things forward on drums. A scat unaccompanied vocal is the highlight here before the verse is repeated to close.

"Bring Me Sunshine" is evocative of Saturday night tv with Morecambe and Wise  in the seventies, but the style of delivery is one of yearning for times long forgotten. A wonderful rendition of the song, enhanced further by Mark Edwards exquisite piano solo. An adventure into the world of Led Zeppelin is next, a fine gospel tinged blues by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant "Nobody's Fault But My Own" which introduces the tenor of Partisans front man Julian Siegel. Liane's voice interweaves with the saxophone to extract the full meaning of the compelling lyrics.

The recording stays in a melancholy mood with the desperate plea to "Get Me Through December" another lament where the full vocal range is used with mature and stunning effect blending towards the end with Mark James acoustic guitar. The subject matter does not lighten and uses the full octet to underpin the mournful words composed by Mary Gauthier on "Mercy Now" a song concerning the death of a father and a brother's fear. Once again the vocal is of the highest quality and delivered with the greatest passion. A more tender and relaxed approach is found on Ned Washington's "Wild Is The Wind" which contains fine piano from Malcolm Edmonstone along with the flugelhorn of James McMillan.

Liane projects a fully personal approach in duet with Robert Luft's guitar on "I Cover The Waterfront", a song much loved by Billie Holiday, where the mood is lighter and swings more easily than previous versions. The classic "My Ship" composed originally by Kurt Weill is an album highlight where Ira Gershwin's great lyrics are given the full emotional treatment at half tempo before the performance segues into a high octane but well controlled scat interlude until the piano returns the song to it's roots.

A version of the traditional hymn "For Those I Peril On The Sea" closes the album and reminds us of the the overall subject matter of the recording. Here the words are sung respectfully, but with jazz phrasing highlighted by the burnished sound of the producer's flugel horn to finish.

This is a wonderful album by one of our greatest jazz talents so full of quality and diversity. I doubt if there will be a better vocal based recording issued anywhere this year.

Jazz Views
01 September 2015