All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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...

4

Dig A Little Deeper: Songs From The Small Hours

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
The title of the debut recording from guitarist Mick Stuart's quintet Dig A Little Deeper captures pretty well the mood of the music—a late night vibe of sultry vocal jazz with brushes and earthy bass setting the mood. Singer Riona Hartman's pure-toned voice holds center stage on eleven original compositions that are notable for their simple narrative flow. Had the order of the songs been rearranged this could almost have been a song cycle tracing the various stages of love, from the pain of longing to the pain of despair and all points in between. The music draws inspiration from jazz and folk balladry in equal measure with occasional hints of swaying Latin rhythms.

There's a little samba in the swaying rhythms of "I Cannot Help Myself," accentuated by Dave McCune's quietly percolating percussion and pianist Johnny Taylor's light touch. Stuart's breezy solo here is succinct and in the main he adopts the role of accompanist and rhythm guitarist throughout the set, adding subtle embellishments where the mood dictates. Soloing plays second fiddle in general, though Taylor shines on "Lifeline"—injecting pace into an otherwise flat-footed number—and really stretches out with a dancing solo on the finger-snapping "Dead and Gone," buoyed by Dan Callaghan's fast walking bass and drummer Tommy Gray's skipping beat.

Greater intimacy colors the lovely "Your Wish is my Command." Gentle acoustic guitar accompanies Hartman on this affecting slower number, which evokes the country balladry of singer/guitarist Neil Young. Hartman's emotive delivery on "Cold" echoes early Joni Mitchell, though in general her delivery and Stuart's storytelling lyrics perhaps owe more to singer Beca Stevens. Walking bass and Hartman's bluesy vocals color "Last Chance Saloon," which features a short solo from Stuart that's over almost before it's started.

Given that these are some of the finest jazz musicians in Ireland, the rationing of solos seems odd. There's a lot to be said for brevity but a little more free-wheeling might have brought some of the less memorable material to life, particularly "You Push I Pull" and "In My Corner," which lack that bit of spark necessary to ever really ignite. The elegant "When I Go" harks back to the era of the jazz standard; a shift in tempo briefly releases Taylor but he's soon reined in as Hartman reappears on the head.

"Lost" begins introspectively, with Hartman's plaintive vocals lent minimal accompaniment. The gentle pulse quickens with Taylor's teasingly brief intervention, but just when the drums pick up and the song seems about to venture somewhere interesting it turns tail and returns to port. The stripped down guitar and vocal duet "Boy Oh Boy" is one of the more distinctive tunes and closes the set on an intimate note.

No doubt in a live setting Stuart's quintet takes greater liberties with the music but there's an overriding feeling that everyone is holding back. A little more guile with the lyrics might also have transformed what are mostly quite memorable melodies into something more potent. When most who ply vocal jazz these days are content to simply rehash standards Stuart deserves credit for instead following his muse. This quintet has all the elements necessary to produce something more essential but it still needs to dig a little deeper.

Track Listing: I Cannot Help Myself; Lifeline; Dead and Gone; Your Wish is my Command; Cold; Last Chance Saloon; You Push I Pull; In my Corner; When I Go; Lost; Boy Oh Boy.

Personnel: Riona Hartman: vocals; Mick Stuart: guitar; Johnny Taylor: piano; Dan Callaghan: double bass; Tommy Gray: drums; Dave McCune: percussion (1).

Title: Songs From The Small Hours | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Lifeline

Lifeline

Dig A Little Deeper
Songs From The Small Hours

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

Related Articles

Read Oscar Peterson Plays CD/LP/Track Review
Oscar Peterson Plays
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 23, 2018
Read State Of The Baritone Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
State Of The Baritone Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one) CD/LP/Track Review
Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one)
by Chris May
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Friends & Family CD/LP/Track Review
Friends & Family
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Northern Migrations CD/LP/Track Review
Northern Migrations
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Egregore CD/LP/Track Review
Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read "Suite Theory" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Theory
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 16, 2018
Read "Seifert" CD/LP/Track Review Seifert
by Ian Patterson
Published: August 10, 2017
Read "Embodied Hope" CD/LP/Track Review Embodied Hope
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 6, 2017
Read "I Try To Remember Where I Come From" CD/LP/Track Review I Try To Remember Where I Come From
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "Rediscovered Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 29, 2017
Read "Liquid Melodies" CD/LP/Track Review Liquid Melodies
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 1, 2017