Denise Donatelli, Mexican Divorce, Savant ****

From one of the finest vocals albums of 2021 so far Denise Donatelli's Burt Bacharach-themed album Whistling in the Dark is let's be frank a dream particularly if you come to Bacharach from a jazz angle even when heavily tinted in this instance …

Published: 1 Sep 2021. Updated: 17 days.

From one of the finest vocals albums of 2021 so far Denise Donatelli's Burt Bacharach-themed album Whistling in the Dark is let's be frank a dream particularly if you come to Bacharach from a jazz angle even when heavily tinted in this instance Americana, Friselliana-wards, 'Mexican Divorce' lyrics are by Bob ('In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning') Hilliard. Produced by the great Larry Klein who also plays bass guitar and keys on the album it's a song of deep ambivalence, loneliness and no little regret that The Drifters sunnily, Bacharach himself, The Chosen Few, who did a reggae version, and Ry Cooder, most magically, among others have covered. Donatelli injects a certain not-at-all naive sang froid that is perfect for the feel of the song when sometimes it is interpreted weirdly enough in an overly jolly way (because the lyrics certainly are not about a barrel of fun), the Anthony Wilson guitar line stays with you long into the night. Donatelli inhabits the song and the best bit, actually the darkest and most meaningful, is how the singer treats the lines in an interplay with Wilson ''As I came home to this empty house last night/Looked at all the windows, and I couldn't find one light.''

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Dave Liebman, Lazy Bird, Dot Time ****

It is a rare sighting these days to come across an album with pianist Bobby Avey on it. So one big reason to get this. There's more. But first regarding Avey cast your minds back to 2014 and a classic from that year Authority Melts From Me, a suite …

Published: 31 Aug 2021. Updated: 18 days.

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It is a rare sighting these days to come across an album with pianist Bobby Avey on it. So one big reason to get this.

There's more. But first regarding Avey cast your minds back to 2014 and a classic from that year Authority Melts From Me, a suite written for quintet.

Dave Liebman and Bobby were close before that and the master appeared on Bobby's A New Face that had appeared four years earlier.

Drawn from the Lieb Expansions band's Selflessness new on Dot Time Records on Friday the album is themed around the music of John Coltrane.

On Blue Train piece 'Lazy Bird,' a beloved classic released on the Blue Note album in 1958, a difference in the arrangement is that there is no trumpet or trombone written for and the piece does not open in a scamper with full pelt piano-on-drums presence.

So for this it has a certain individual distinctiveness in the treatment that certainly conjures surprise.

Lieb, who turns 75 on Saturday, on soprano and Matt Vashlishan wielding alto are lead voices and they blend.

There is a strong contrapuntal sense to the early scene-setting and Avey's touch as part of the sound has a sweep to it that is very appealing, involving, and draws you in.

The piece comes across as a little poignant in the characterisation of the main melody line and given the twists and turns as a listener you can ride on – it's all about the journey and not the all-too-often experienced bathos of destination.

Lieb's soloing on the straight horn after Avey when it blossoms (around 02:39) is exquisite and in such timbral and interpretative detail leaves a mark on the imagination.