Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

127

Ranee Lee: Maple Groove: Songs From The Great Canadian Songbook

By

Sign in to view read count
Ranee Lee: Maple Groove: Songs From The Great Canadian Songbook Canadian vocalist Ranee Lee mines an attractive concept on Maple Groove : showcasing great Canadian songwriters. The vast majority of major Canadian songwriters known internationally are pop rather than jazz artists, but a singer with Lee's chops and taste meets the challenge of making pop songs propulsively swing. Her covers of Bruce Cockburn's "My Beat" and Randy Bachman's "Undun" are glowing examples on this album. Lee does "Both Sides Now" convincingly as a slow ballad, simply the best translation of a Joni Mitchell folk song into a jazzy torch song I've ever heard.

Capably backed by a professional, if not awe-inspiring band, Lee projects her dusky voice most dramatically on ballads, particularly the morose "It Looks Like Rain" and "Maybe September." With Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind," she sings as if on autopilot, although one could question the sagacity of setting Lightfoot to jazz to begin with.

And that raises the one problematic aspect of this concept album: how was this material selected? The most internationally acclaimed Canadian songwriter of the past century, Leonard Cohen, is omitted, and only one song in French is offered. Don't expect this album to win friends and influence fans in Quebec (where the label is located). Further, two of the songs Lee covers really are not vocal pieces at all, Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby" (saddled with smarmy and sentimental lyrics by jazz journalist Gene Lees, who should stick to journalism) and Oscar Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom." The instrumental versions by the original artists put these vocal versions to shame.

This disc's high points, and there are many, make me hope for a second volume of this much needed concept by a fine singer, with Cohen and French songwriters receiving their due.


Track Listing: 1. If You Could Read My Mind, 2. Waltz for Debby, 3. Maybe September, 4. My Beat, 5. It Looks Like rain, 6. Douce Pluie, 7. Some Of These Days, 8. Put Your Dreams Away, 9. Undun, 10. Hymn to freedom, 11. Swinging Shepherd Blues, 12. Both Sides Now, 13. Spinning Wheel

Personnel: Ranee Lee, Richard Ring, John Sandowy, Brian Dickinson, Zach Lober, Mike Downes, Dave Laing, Ron Di Lauro, Richard Beaudet

Year Released: 2004 | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read #knowingishalfthebattle CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Live In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read King Of Xhosa CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Blooming Tall Phlox CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Hear & Now CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 22, 2017
Read Known-Unknown CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Live in Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 17, 2016
Read "Protean Reality" CD/LP/Track Review Protean Reality
by John Sharpe
Published: June 22, 2016
Read "Shoebox View" CD/LP/Track Review Shoebox View
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 26, 2016
Read "A Room Forever" CD/LP/Track Review A Room Forever
by Budd Kopman
Published: April 15, 2016
Read "Porcupine Meat" CD/LP/Track Review Porcupine Meat
by James Nadal
Published: September 29, 2016
Read "Ed Calle 360" CD/LP/Track Review Ed Calle 360
by Edward Blanco
Published: July 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!