Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

211

Christine Tobin: Romance and Revolution

By

Sign in to view read count
In recent years jazz public enemy number one seems to have shifted from "smooth jazz" to "jazz vocalists." The heavy promotion and subsequent success of the Kralls, Cullums, and Monheits has almost given vocals in jazz a bad name. It has become much more difficult for a genuinely distinctive singer to be taken seriously in the jazz field.

Well, Christine Tobin is very much the distinctive jazz singer. Originating from Dublin, she first came to notice in the UK as a sometimes Gaelic-singing member of Lammas. Yet she has stressed that her roots are not in Irish traditional music; the singer/songwriter school of the '60s and '70s is her starting point. Over a series of excellent albums she has taken songs from that source, alongside jazz standards and her own compositions, to forge a sound that is unlike any other contemporary singer.

Tobin makes no attempt to emulate the sound of the Julie London LP sleeve. Her voice is midrange, husky, sometimes harsh, frequently bluesy. She takes a lyric and tries to bring out its meaning to the listener, rather than trying to make a pretty sound. Her recordings are not easy listening backdrops for sophisticated seducers but genuine attempts to explore the unsettling nature of human relationships.

Romance and Revolution is equally divided between originals and covers. The latter stretch from a straight version of Brian Wilson's "God Only Knows through a semi-Latin take on Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm to a sultry "Can't Help Loving that Man.

However, the stand out tracks are the original songs. Best of these is the opening "Horses, a setting of a Paul Muldoon poem that perfectly matches the dream-like feel of the words. Phil Robson's guitar is magical here; his rippling effects behind the vocal give way to a beautiful central solo. Robson is Tobin's regular concert and recording partner, and he's the other key voice on Romance and Revolution, whether on electric or acoustic guitar. Listeners who know him from the high-octane band Partisans will be surprised by the sensitivity of his accompaniment across this recording.

"He's Not Anyone is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell during her most creative phase in the mid-'70s. The unusual chord choices make for a rich listening experience; and just as the listener's ear was drawn to Jaco Pastorius as much as the singer on Hejira, so do Robson's ever-changing guitar shapes grab equal attention here.

Christine Tobin has proved herself over a string of recordings in the last decade; she is also a major influence in the UK jazz scene, helping to put together opportunities for musicians to present their work to the wider public. She has never displayed any temptation to be drawn towards a more populist agenda, preferring to follow her own path. If you've given up on jazz vocals as lost to the world of pop, then try Romance and Revolution. It might just restore your faith in the genre.

Track Listing: Horses; God Only Knows; Black and Blue; He

Personnel: Christine Tobin: voice, piano; Phil Robson: guitar; Dave Whitford: double bass; Thebe Lipere: percussion; Steve Arguelles: drums.

Title: Romance and Revolution | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Babel Label

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jun29Sat
Christine Tobin
Christ Church
Rochester, NY
$30
Jun29Sat
Christine Tobin
Christ Church
Rochester, NY
$30

Related Articles

Read Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances Album Reviews
Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances
By Dan McClenaghan
May 21, 2019
Read Crowded Heart Album Reviews
Crowded Heart
By Nicholas F. Mondello
May 21, 2019
Read That's a Computer Album Reviews
That's a Computer
By Jerome Wilson
May 21, 2019
Read All I Do Is Bleed Album Reviews
All I Do Is Bleed
By Paul Naser
May 21, 2019
Read LE10 18-05 Album Reviews
LE10 18-05
By Karl Ackermann
May 20, 2019
Read Remembering Miles Album Reviews
Remembering Miles
By Dan McClenaghan
May 20, 2019
Read Merry Peers Album Reviews
Merry Peers
By Bruce Lindsay
May 20, 2019