iPod Shuffle, April 2016

  1. Easter Parade : Jessica Williams
  2. My One & Only Love : John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman
  3. Beautiful Love : Anita O’Day
  4. Sunny Afternoon : The Kinks
  5. Blueprint Man : Liz Simcock
  6. Morning Song for Sally : Nanci Griffith
  7. Lights of Laramie : Ian Tyson
  8. Old Man : Neil Young
  9. Under a Blanket of Blue : Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
  10. Frost & Fire : Everything But The Girl
  11. Worried Life Blues : Johnny Shines
  12. Joe Turner Blues : Mississippi John Hurt

Jessica Williams’ take on Easter Parade lifts it a long way from memories of Fred Astaire and Judy Garland and no small blessing in that. I’ve always enjoyed the way she takes tunes and gives them a good old shake up and runaround before easing them down and leaving them relatively unscarred. She usually includes a couple of Monk compositions in any set and makes as good use of them as most. I’ve seen her perform live twice, once at the Purcell Room on the South Bank in London, and once at a free gig in a park in Sacramento. Ace, both times.

Johnny Hartman is a singer I’d never really listened to until his voice was featured prominently in Eastwood’s The Bridges of Madison County [and what a good and under-rated film that is] but after that I sought him out and found at least two fine albums, one with Coltrane and one with the trumpeter, Howard McGhee. Anita O’Day, on the other hand, has always been a favourite, and this track comes from her 1955 album, Anita – one of the first 12″ LPs I owned – with, if my memory serves, Barney Kessel’s guitar on some tracks and a ‘choir’ of four trombones on others.

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Blueprint Man comes from singer/songwriter Liz Simcock’s 2008 album Beachcomber and finds Liz is nicely ironic mood in a song and arrangement (nice banjo! not something I say often) that bring to mind some of the late Dory Previn’s work, pieces like A Stone for Bessie Smith and Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign. Tough whether Liz knows Previn’s work at all I’ve no idea.

Incidentally, if you’re within reach of the Poetry Café in London’s Covent Garden on Friday evening, April 22nd, you can hear Liz playing a couple of sets either side of poetry readings by Danielle Hope and myself.

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