Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Marlbank's top 5 UK & Ireland jazz albums released between January and June

5 Zara McFarlane SWEET WHISPERS: CELEBRATING SARAH VAUGHAN - a UK release. 4 Trish Clowes and Ross Stanley's JOURNEY TO WHERE - a UK release. 3 Charlie Moon SINGS AND PLAYS - an Ireland release. 2 Ian Shaw and Tony Kofi's AN ADVENTUROUS DREAM …

Published: 12 Jun 2024. Updated: 37 days.

5 Zara McFarlane SWEET WHISPERS: CELEBRATING SARAH VAUGHAN - a UK release.

4 Trish Clowes and Ross Stanley's JOURNEY TO WHERE - a UK release.

3 Charlie Moon SINGS AND PLAYS - an Ireland release.

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2 Ian Shaw and Tony Kofi's AN ADVENTUROUS DREAM - a UK release. Also top UK live album.


In the huge world, which roars hard by,

Be others happy if they can!

But in my helpless cradle I

Was breathed on by the rural Pan

'Lines Written in Kensington Gardens' (1852) From Empedocles on Etna

Matthew Arnold

1 Superlocrian, HILLS & VALLEYS. A UK release. Sends us to thoughts of the Victorian poet Matthew Arnold, somehow. An incredible meltingly perfect debut from Sam Massey and his ensemble, utterly distinctive sounding and beautifully arranged brass and winds traversing jazz, classical everyman qualities and the rural southern English brass band tradition. Comes with marvellous Air, Hampstead sonics breathing in that incredible room as much an instrument as any other, a pastoral countryside journey full of a very English sense of tristesse if a French word is even allowed. Feel free, there's no English word for what it does and bittersweet melancholia doesn't quite describe the sound which is not at all lost in translation via The Carpenters and a very apt and thoughtful nod to Kenny Wheeler. All this plus classic Hamlisch and Sager 1970s Carly Simon of fond regard made infinitely less soppy 'Nobody Does it Better.' These last four words sum all this up neatly.

Chet it go, Charlie Moon, top, with his father fellow jazz guitarist Nigel ''the Bohemian'' Mooney. Photographer unknown.

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Jazz vocals and best UK album of the week: Zara McFarlane, Sweet Whispers: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan, Eternal Source Of Light/!K7 Records ****

A singer who figured early on in the story so far of Ezra Collective eight years ago, sported acclaimed Dem Ones duo Binker and Moses in her own band back in the day having first impressed as a featured singer with Jazz Jamaica later scooping a …

Published: 11 Jun 2024. Updated: 37 days.

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A singer who figured early on in the story so far of Ezra Collective eight years ago, sported acclaimed Dem Ones duo Binker and Moses in her own band back in the day having first impressed as a featured singer with Jazz Jamaica later scooping a best jazz act MOBO to boot, we reckon this Sarah Vaughan tribute from the fortysomething Londoner out later this week matches Zara's best work to date, 2013's If You Knew Her.

Marking the centenary of the birth of the Divine One in Newark Sweet Whispers: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan is mature and considered and shows the incredible vocal technique at the singer's disposal in its best light also displayed to a massive TV audience singing the national anthem at the recent FA Cup final in Wembley. Giacomo Smith's arrangement and bass clarinet playing on the lead-off track also complements the ingenuity of the vocals.

The collection of songs includes a favourite of Zara's, 'Mean to Me', from Sassy's 1950 album Sarah Vaughan and after Marvin Gaye a version that follows in the footsteps of beboppers favourite Vaughan morphing stylistically to cover the 1970s era classic 'Inner City Blues'. Zara also contributes a fine original which is the title track that is totally in keeping with the classic mood. Musicians in the studio with McFarlane and Smith include pianist Joe Webb who adds the most vintage touches, bassist Ferg Ireland and drummer Jas Kayser at its core. McFarlane's Caribbean heritage isn't forgotten given the presence of a role for the steel plan playing of Marlon Hibbert.

Zara McFarlane, photo above: Kareem Abdul. Main photo: via Riotsquad 'The Mystery of Man' is streaming ahead of the full album's release on Friday