Stella Bass, Look for the Silver Lining ****

Oh, so very impressive classic mainstream-jazz vocals here from Dublin jazz singer Stella Bass. Any album that begins with Stephen Sondheim's 'Being Alive' performed down the years by among many others Cleo Laine, Barbra Streisand and Cyrille Aimée …

Published: 4 Jan 2024. Updated: 10 days.

Oh, so very impressive classic mainstream-jazz vocals here from Dublin jazz singer Stella Bass. Any album that begins with Stephen Sondheim's 'Being Alive' performed down the years by among many others Cleo Laine, Barbra Streisand and Cyrille Aimée is all right any day of the week. And the album certainly keeps up the momentum achieved by this tasteful opener throughout. Accompanied sensitively by fine pianist Johnny Taylor and his trio, with Barry Donohue on double bass and Dominic Mullan on drums, album guest spots include appearances by saxist Michael Buckley and flugel player Ronan Dooney, the selections are well-chosen vintage standards ('Old Devil Moon,' 'Pure Imagination,' etc) but the most appealing track against such stiff competition is a song that Stella herself co-wrote - 'Still' - that fits the very grown-up mood perfectly. If you are into singers such as Claire Martin or Honor Heffernan then you will feel right at home.

Out in February. Stella plays Sugar Club in Dublin on 3 Feb and Scott's in Belfast on the 9th

Look for the Silver Lining Spotify album link added on 12 May

Tags: ReviewsIrish

Jun Iida, Evergreen, Origin ***1/2

A new name to us. Trumpeter Jun Iida - a US player of Japanese descent whose style recalls the much missed Roy Hargrove a bit - here on a very pleasant set of originals and standards recorded in a Los Angeles studio in 2022. The vocals of Audrey …

Published: 4 Jan 2024. Updated: 4 months.

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A new name to us. Trumpeter Jun Iida - a US player of Japanese descent whose style recalls the much missed Roy Hargrove a bit - here on a very pleasant set of originals and standards recorded in a Los Angeles studio in 2022. The vocals of Audrey Johnson are tucked under melody lines and ingeniously add to the arranging style, and Iida also surrounds himself with the guitar of Masami Kuroki, piano of Josh Nelson who is great on opener 'Gooey Butter Cake,' bass of Jonathan Richards and drums of Xavier Lecouturier. The pick of the orginals is the atmosphere-laden ballad 'Song for Luke.'

A cover of the Sonny Rollins/Elmo Hope number 'Bellarosa' from the 1950s is a rare selection - great choice - as too is the more familiar but welcome choice of the 'Love Theme from Spartacus' that is very delicately delivered with fine accompaniment again by Nelson. It's a crowded field this kind of retro trumpet-led bebop soaked jazz. So let's hope that Evergreen gets heard because Iida clearly has something to say.

Out on 19 January. Opener Iida original, the finger snapping 'Gooey Butter Cake,' is streaming ahead of the full album release