Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Charlie Moon, Sings and Plays, Charlie Moon Music ****

A for always sort of standards album. Pedigree vocals from the Irish singer. There's strength in softness - soft singing that is. And Charlie Moon knows that better than most. There is nothing flakey or fake here. And he has come up with the best …

Published: 26 May 2024. Updated: 52 days.

A for always sort of standards album. Pedigree vocals from the Irish singer. There's strength in softness - soft singing that is. And Charlie Moon knows that better than most. There is nothing flakey or fake here. And he has come up with the best Irish artist jazz release of the year to date and certainly Sings & Plays is up there with some of the strongest albums of the year more broadly - see the full list.

All delivered so lightly and gently but there's paradoxically weight in what's achieved. Beyond simply a homage to Chet Baker because that heritage lingers as more of a starting point that enlarges to find its own space with Chet somewhere there in the mind's eye but not overbearingly hovering over the shoulder the whole time.

The Barney Kessel influenced guitarist knows how to accompany himself better than most and certainly you get a singersongwritery feel to what's here but with a jazz twist - in other words the instrumental lines are as important as the vocals which isn't really the case with the sort of singer-songwriters who bear their souls gutwrenchingly but a little impossibly at times with a few chords lobbed in as an afterthought.

Take your pick as there are lots of highlights transcending the basic idea of it all. For us the cover of Jimmy Van Heusen and Phil (Sgt Bilko) Silvers' 'Nancy (With The Laughing Face)' also delivered so memorably by Kurt Elling on 2009's incredible live John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman tribute album Dedicated to You rises to the top most as does Moon's undoomy take on very sad Gordon Jenkins classic 'Goodbye' and the Irishman's all round nimble negotiating of Benny Golson classic 'Whisper Not' is a peach.

Moon, 35, is a very different singer to Elling or Chet for that matter. Timbrally he has his own sound and is his own man. Harry Warren/Mack Gordon's 1940s song 'This Is Always' opens proceedings, a song you never really hear this days. It was as far back as 2019 when the last version we know, fine English singer Polly Gibbons', as it happened surfaced. The Chet link here, is it was on the ur text of the album conceptually, the 1955 Pacific album that - steady, the full mouthful - was entitled Chet Baker Sings and Plays With Bud Shank, Russ Freeman and Strings. Also well captured is the Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish classic 'Stardust'. Moon has jazz in his genes because he is the son of jazz singer Mia Parsons and Irish jazz guitar great Nigel Mooney. Stemming Liffey-wards hereon as if a tipping point the zeitgeist for ''soft singing'' is perfect as there's an appetite for the style at the moment in the wake of the sparks ignited by the all conquering Laufey.

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Sunday's top 10 in the playlist

Updated daily - specially selected - the 10 tracks you need to stop right now and listen to asap. Saturday's: The great jazz pianist and bandleader Monty Alexander, top, turns 80 on D Day, the day the Jamaican-American's album of the same name is …

Published: 26 May 2024. Updated: 54 days.

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The great jazz pianist and bandleader Monty Alexander, top, turns 80 on D Day, the day the Jamaican-American's album of the same name is issued. He returns to Ronnie Scott's to play with bassist Luke Sellick and drummer Jason Brown from 24-28 June: photo: emilianolasansky.com