Review: The Abbey Road Sessions

The Jazz Rag

Les Tomkins, April 2011

No other jazz singer could ever be mistaken for Ian Shaw. His vocal sound, and how he deploys it, is his alone. The components of his flexibility have to be his total musicianship, his keen jazz awareness, his versatility in choosing his material - and, possibly, h is Welshness. Like Torme, he writes many of his own arrangements, and is capable of accompanying himself expertly on piano.

His last CD was, effectively, just him and his piano. This new treat for his devotees has him ensconced in the legendary Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios, in the company of seven other international musicians. Foremost among these is the are bassist Peter Ind, known for his recording activities, in the USA and here, and for his club, The Bass Clef, well-remembered from the 'eighties. Notable contributions are also made by Phil Ware on piano, David Preston on guitar, Gene Calderazzo on drums, Zhenya Strigalev on alto, and Miguel Gorodi on trumpet.

Ian kicks off with the ultimate 'denial' song, Get Out Of Town, and its attributes of precise diction and off-beat approach are only marred for me by some unruly alto at the start. Other highlights of the 13 eventual tracks: a brisk work-out on one of those pop songs that lend themselves, Stuck In The Middle With You, that includes a rapid display by the indomitable Ind: an elegant medley of I'm Through With Love and Day Dream, spotlighting the subdued side of Shaw, and some acceptable alto. The version of Joni Mitchell's Be Cool finds me pondering the vocalese nature of her lyrics and enjoying some Chet Baker-style trumpet. I'm much aware of Ian's acting talent in his powerful performance of I Get Along Without You Very Well, which he shares with the peak pianism of Phil Ware. The rousing rhythms of Today I Sing The Blues, aided by great alto and guitar solos, reminds me of Ian's command of this vibrant idiom. To wrap things up superbly, there's a single chorus of Stairway To The Stars with just the voice and that big-toned bass. An event indeed.