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Jacqui Dankworth: It Happens Quietly

Bruce Lindsay By

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It Happens Quietly is an album of great beauty. Singer Jacqui Dankworth is at the top of her game, investing this collection of songs with superb technique and humanity. She's ably assisted by superb musicians, and by some of the loveliest and most creative arrangements to grace a jazz record for some time. There's an element of poignancy too, as this album is the last work undertaken by Jacqui's father, Sir John Dankworth, before his death in 2010.

Sir John was one of the UK's best-known and most talented jazz saxophonists, composers and arrangers. Jacqui followed her mother, Dame Cleo Laine, to become an accomplished actress as well as a fine singer while her brother Alec Dankworth took up the double-bass, and is also featured on this recording.

It Happens Quietly boasts some fine arrangements—written by Sir John with the assistance of Ken Gibson. Coupled with Jacqui's voice, these arrangements give the album a calm gentleness, a romanticism and a very human warmth. There's terrific musicianship, too. Harry Warren's "At Last" typifies all of these qualities; a superbly relaxed ensemble performance, Tim Garland's tenor solo adding a touch of urgency, and Jacqui's perfectly timed vocals creating a faultless reading of this beautiful song.

The highlights come thick and fast across all 12 tunes, but honorable mentions should go also to Karen Sharp's mellow tenor solo on "Ill Wind," Ben Davis' cello on "A Love Like Ours;" and Steve Brown's Latin-tinged drums and Chris Allard's fluid guitar on "In The Still of the Night."

Sir John appears on "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square" and "The Man." He can be heard on both songs bringing the musicians together, counting in the tune. His single instrumental appearance is his alto solo on "The Man," one of his own tunes with lyrics by Jacqui. It's a light-hearted, even jaunty, song and Sir John's brief solo—actually taken from an earlier recording of the song for a music library project—fits elegantly into the arrangement.

Two stripped-down duo performances also stand out. On "Blame It On My Youth" Jacqui is accompanied solely by Malcolm Edmonstone's piano, on "The Folks Who Live On The Hill" she's joined by Allard on acoustic guitar. Such sparse, spacious arrangements could readily expose any imperfections. Here they serve to demonstrate Jacqui's absolutely exquisite vocals—controlled, crystal-clear, perfectly capturing the subtle emotional power of the lyrics—and Edmonstone and Allard's masterful skills as accompanists.

"It happens quietly" Jacqui sings on the title song, written by her father and lyricist Buddy Kaye, "because it's real." Her voice, the music, the arrangements, celebrate life; friendship, love, family, relationships; in its perfect, and not so perfect, moments. It Happens Quietly is one of the perfect moments.

Track Listing: A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square; In The Still of the Night; It Happens Quietly; I'm Glad There Is You; A Love Like Ours; My Foolish Heart; Make Someone Happy; Blame It On My Youth; Ill Wind; At Last; The Man; The Folks Who Live On The Hill.

Personnel: Jacqui Dankworth: vocals; Henry Lowther: trumpet; Barnaby Dickenson: trombone; Dave Laurance: French horn; John Dankworth: alto saxophone; Tim Garland: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone; Jimmy Hastings: flute, bass clarinet; Karen Sharp: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Malcolm Edmonstone: piano; Chris Allard: guitar; Alec Dankworth: bass; Andrew Bain: drums; Sally Herbert: violin; Everton Nelson: violin; Francis Dewar: violin; Alison Dodds: violin; Gareth Griffiths: violin; Peter Hanson: violin; Ian Humphries: violin; Tom Piggott-Smith: violin; Clare Finnemore: viola; Bruce White: viola; Ian Brurdge: cello; Chris Worsley: cello; Ben Davis: cello; Steve Watts: bass (2, 5, 7); Steve Brown: drums (2, 5, 7).

Title: It Happens Quietly | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Specific Jazz


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