Trudy Kerr: Contemplation

Bruce Lindsay By

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Subtitled The Best Of Trudy Kerr, Contemplation is a retrospective of the singer's career through selections from her ten album discography.

Contemplation takes in Kerr's career from Blossom Dearie's "Sweet Surprise"—a track from her debut album (Sweet Surprise, Jazzizit Records, 1997)—through to "Poppies," from The Rhythm of Life: Ted And Gladys (Jazzizit Records, 2013), credited jointly to Kerr and her husband and bassist Geoff Gascoyne.

Across these songs Kerr is acompanied by some of the finest musicians in the UK, including Gascoyne, drummers Sebastian De Krom and Matt Home and pianist Tom Cawley. Kerr draws on a wide range of writers, from the pop stylings of Bacharach and David ("Seconds") and Gerry Goffin and Carole King ("Go Away Little Boy") to Duke Ellington ("In A Sentimental Mood," with Michael Garrick on piano) and John Coltrane ("Moment's Notice," lyrics by Kerr).

The range of writers is matched by Kerr's breadth of approaches to performance. "Tea For Two" is an up-tempo, Anita O'Day-style take on the old standard with backing from Gascoyne, De Krom and baritone saxophonist Derek Nash. "Makin' Whoopee" is a sultry, slow burn, number featuring trumpeter Dick Pearce. Kerr's moving performance of "My Foolish Heart" tears at the heartstrings, while her take on Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Two Kites" mixes bossa nova groove with the romance of the Juno String Quartet. There are also a couple of Kerr/Gascoyne originals: "Poppies" and "Save Me." Both are gentle love songs, the latter given a bit of extra edge by Ashley Slater's trombone solo.

Two of the gentler performances stand out for the beauty of both Kerr's vocals and the musical accompaniment. She gives "Happy Talk" a much more reflective arrangement than it usually gets: no forced jollity, more an acknowledgement that life isn't always like you might wish. Cawley, Gascoyne and De Krom pick up on and heighten this feeling. For the Rogers and Hart classic "Glad To Be Unhappy" she's joined by the trio of Gascoyne, De Krom and guest pianist Mulgrew Miller. The pianist fits right in, as though he's been accompanying Kerr for years.

Compilation albums can often create debate and even dissent, mostly about what's not included—for example, there's nothing here from the excellent Reunion (Jazzizit, 2010), Kerr's album with fellow vocalist Ingrid James. Such an absence is an indication of the quality of Kerr's discography: there's much to celebrate about a compilation like Contemplation that doesn't have room for every song deserving of inclusion.

Track Listing: Glad To Be Unhappy; Tea For Two; Poppies; They Say It's Wonderful; Go Away Little Boy; Moment's Notice; Seconds; Sweet Surprise; Makin' Whoopee; My Foolish Heart; Save Me; Two Kites; Ruby My Dear; Happy Talk; In A Sentimental Mood.

Personnel: Trudy Kerr: vocals; Tom Cawley: piano; Geoff Gascoyne: bass; Steve Brown: drums; Sebastiaan De Krom: drums; Matt Home: drums; Dick Pearce: trumpet (9); Derek Nash: baritone saxophone (2); Ashley Slater: trombone (11); Jim Mullen: guitar (7); Mulgrew Miller: piano (1); Jan Lundgren: piano (4); Michael Garrick: piano (15); Juno String Quartet: strings (4, 12).

Title: Contemplation | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Jazzizit

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