Suddenly - these past few years - one of Scotland's highest profile jazz stars and deservedly reaching new audiences all the time Sure of You is a more intimate late night album of duets, just singer Georgia Cécile and pianist Fraser Urquhart opening quite conventionally with a stately version of 'Too Marvelous For Words' followed by a glacial, gently simmering, version of the Carl Sigman/Bob Russell song 'Crazy He Calls Me'. Cécile's superb diction is very well captured by the sound engineer, a slight burr in the way she sings the word ''fire.''
Where the Glaswegian really scores is the way she has with Duke Ellington songs and the choice of 'I'm Afraid' is excellent given it is rarely covered nowadays.
The inclusion of the Edmund Goulding and Mack Gordon movie song from The Razor's Edge 'Mam'selle' that goes back to the 1940s first recorded by Ray Dorey and Frank Sinatra (and in more recent years the much missed Freddy Cole) is another great choice and Cécile is up to the task by selling such a charmer so mellifluously.
The gospel chills-inducing element here most is Charles Hutchison Gabriel's 'His Eye Is On The Sparrow' and that arrangement allows an a cappella introduction with very effective reverb and held notes increasing the tension later so expertly released and becomes a significant moment.
Full marks again for song choices and a dip into the classical repertoire with Ralph Vaughan Williams song 'Youth & Love' set to Robert Louis Stevenson's words.
Pervasively slow this album - even funereal at times - are the tempos of choice throughout incidentally. It's not zip-a-dee-doo-dah at all. Bernstein show song 'Lucky To Be Me' is lovingly treated and Urquhart's often hidden in plain sight accompaniment is best heard in the way he introduces Bobby Troup's 'Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring,' the B side of Jimmie Rodgers 1957 hit, 'Honeycomb'. His version seems so cheesy nowadays but Cécile's definitely isn't.
The most recent song covered here is Gregory Porter's 'Modern Day Apprentice' which was on 2020's All Rise and again you obtain a gospelly sensation through and through. Most unexpected choice of all is Estonian holy minimalist composer Arvo Pärt's 'My Heart's In The Highlands' setting of lyrics by Robert Burns, the clear big Scottish statement.
The Gershwins' 'Soon' is a far more predictable but just as welcome a choice. Perhaps there have been too many versions of the Carla Bley, Kurt Elling, Sara Teasdale classic 'Endless Lawns' recently and also here. But you never really hear Ellington's 'On A Turquoise Cloud,' a rarity that Adelaide Hall and Kay Davis sang with the Duke so again a fine curatorial choice. If anything Sure of You is deeper into jazz and even more convincing than Only The Lover Sings although there is nothing here that matches the extraordinary impact of 'Harpoon' on that earlier album. Georgia Cécile, photo: press
MORE READING AND LISTENING:
Only The Lover Sings - 2021