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English vocalist Jacqueline Dankworth has teamed with her regular pianist James Pearson in a live performance of romantic standards, originals and traditional songs. Although For all We Know is her debut as a soloist, Dankworth is by no means a novice entertainer. She has appeared in London's West End theatres in many a musical production, performed new arrangements of Gershwin material with the BBC Orchestra, shared programs of jazz material with her brother Alec (not John) Dankworth and is a well-trod traveler, having worked from Hawaii to Hong Kong with stops in Indonesia and New Zealand along the way. For the last couple of years, she has had her own pop group, Field of Blues.
Dankworth brings to mind the observation Marat made about Robspierre, viz., "that man is dangerous, he really believes what he says". While Dankworth isn't dangerous, the sincerity she brings to each tune clearly indicates she believes in the lyrics of the songs she sings. Dankworth is blessed with perfect pitch, excellent diction and phrasing. Her voice is lighter than one usually hears in contemporary jazz singers, with an airy ethereal feeling. She helps to dispel the notion that to be passionate and emotional, you must sing loud. Her voice shapes each song, bringing a special aura to each one. Compare, for example, a relatively somber Nina Simone penned "Nobody's Fault but Mine" with the gayly delivered "If I Were a Bell". The latter, by the way, spotlights the piano of Mr. Pearson, which is also contemplative in a classical music kind of way. Celestial qualities are brought to the forefront coming through soft and clear on "So Many Stars". Showing her versatility and willingness to take a risk or two, Dankworth takes words of Dyonysis Sophistes from Greek anthology putting a contemporary twist to them in "Rose Girl". Dankworth has been down this artistic road before having put the poetry of A. E. Houseman in a jazz setting while working with the New Perspectives Ensemble.
Unfortunately, Dankworth's softness works against her as either poor mike placement, bad mixing or some other technical problem results in having Pearson's piano overwhelm Dankworth's singing to the point you can barely hear her on some tracks. But This is minor inconvenience when placed against the album's strengths This album is recommended.
Tracks:Nobody's Fault but Mine; Song; Mad Song; And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time; It Might as Well Be Spring; Rose Girl; If I Were a Bell; So Many Stars; Our Love Is Here to Stay; Sitting on Top of the World; For all We Know.
Personnel: Jacqueline Dankworth - Vocals; James Pearson - Piano
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.