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Ian Shaw & Tony Kofi: An Adventurous Dream (At PizzaExpress Live In London)


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Ian Shaw & Tony Kofi: An Adventurous Dream (At PizzaExpress Live In London)
The trouble with live albums recorded in venues that are, essentially, eateries, is that the musicians may have to go large to grab the audience's attention, sometimes too large for the material which they are performing. This is abundantly the case with An Adventurous Dream (At PizzaExpress Live In London): The Music Of Billy Strayhorn And Duke Ellington, co-headlined by vocalist Ian Shaw and alto saxophonist Tony Kofi, accompanied by pianist Barry Green and bassist Dave Green.

The whole notion of jazz musicians entertaining audiences who are eating and drinking has been challenged by notables such as Charles Mingus since the 1950s, but it is too complex an issue to be discussed here—and it gets more complicated, and more pertinent to this review, when it is acknowledged that it has been going on at least since Duke Ellington's residency at the Cotton Club in the 1920s.

Anyway, An Adventurous Dream is not a bad album, just a disappointing one, in which the leaders' over-emoting performances fail to do justice to two of the twentieth century's most sophisticated and nuanced composers, Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

There are some stone classics here. Some, as composed, are upbeat and expansive, others slow-paced and dreamy. The problem is that Shaw and Kofi approach every song like they are onstage at the Super Bowl. "Isfahan," "Satin Doll," "Mood Indigo," "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing," "Blood Count," "Lush Life" and the other half-dozen songs are all delivered like Shirley Bassey might belt out an 007 movie's theme song. Shaw's vocal gymnastics are awesome, but here subtlety and delicacy would be more appropriate, and Kofi's Johnny Hodges-like glissandi are, too often, so wrung out that they verge on the parodic.

Shaw and Kofi each have multiple fine albums to their credit, but this, sadly, is not one of them.

Track Listing

Mood Indigo; I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart/I Don’t Get Around Much Anymore; Isfahan; My Little Brown Book; Day Dream; Satin Doll; A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing; Something To Live For; Passion Flower; Blood Count; Raincheck; Lush Life.


Ian Shaw
Tony Kofi
Dave Green
bass, acoustic

Album information

Title: An Adventurous Dream (At PizzaExpress Live In London) | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: PX Records

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