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Dominic Alldis is one of those performers who have a strong interest in both jazz and classical music. And as others like him, Alldis is most comfortable as a cabaret performer. The pianist/vocalist began his musical career in 1985 in the middle of the two genre, as resident pianist at London's Pizza on the Park. During his two-year residency he regularly played opposite many of the world's leading cabaret stars including Steve Ross, Blossom Dearie, Dave Frishberg and Bob Dorough, along with jazz pianists like Teddy Wilson, Dave McKenna and Roger Kellaway. He is also the author of A Classical Approach to Jazz Piano an effort to make classical pianists aware of jazz harmonies.
Following an album of Bill Evans music, he has now turned to the enigmatic Noel Coward whose music is suited to cabaret treatment. Having said that, some of the cuts sound as if Alldis were giving a performance of Schuman lieder. Not that Coward's material comes anywhere close to Schuman. But it's the ambience one finds at such performances, stolid, stoic, and sometimes sanctimonious. Then there are cuts where Alldis swings like on "World Weary" and "Room with a View". He's helped considerably here by the jazzy sax of Tim Garland and the swinging beat of Clark Tracey's drums. One of the album's best tracks sort of falls in between. On "The Party's Over Now", Alldis is accompanied by his piano and very soulful harmonica by Adam Glasser making this tune much better than it really is.
The real problem with the album is Noel Coward. His music, while sometimes clever and witty, is dated and wears thin very quickly irrespective of the sincere efforts of the performers. The tunes on the play list are from early revues and shows like This Year of Grace, Ace of Clubs and Conversation Piece whose time has long since passed. The most recognizable Coward tune on the CD is "Ill Follow My Secret Heart", once more featuring fine harmonica by Glasser.
Alldis is English and perhaps Mr. Coward continues to be popular in that country. Hopefully, for his next album the singer/pianist will turn to material more suitable to his considerable talent and those of the musicians with him on this set who hang in there with typical English stiff upper lip. For Noel Coward fans only. Visit Alldis on the Internet at www.canzona.demon.co.uk. Oh yes, the lyrics are reprinted in the liner notes.
Track Listing: A Room with a View; Sigh No More; Sail Away; World Weary; I'll Follow My Secret Heart; Why Do the Wrong People Travel; If Love Were All; The Party's Over Now; Come the Wild Wild Weather
Personnel: Dominic Alldis - Vocals/Piano; Alec Dankworth - Bass; Clark Tracey - Drums; Tim Garland - Saxophone; Adam Glasser - Harmonica
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.