From the very opening bars of the Bob Haggart/Johnny Burke title track, a song beloved by vocalists (Billie Holiday) and instrumentalists (John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery) alike, What's New scores exceptionally highly for its communicative power and the way in which the trio expertly charts the narrative ebb and flow of some of the finest songs of the twentieth century.
As well as beautiful versions of Once Upon A Summertime and If You Never Come To Me (the English language version of the Jobim classic InÃºtil Paisagem with lyrics by Ray Gilbert), Shaw perfectly captures the tongue in cheek mood of the Rodgers and Hart standard I Wish I Were In Love Again and brings an emotional poignancy to Some Other Time. For the brilliance of the soloing, first from Ballamy, then from Safir, You Stepped Out of A Dream is one of the several standouts.
The album reaches its high-water mark with a transfixing interpretation of Bacharach and David's Alfie, a song Shaw previously recorded with Cedar Walton on their 1999 Milestone album, In A New York Minute, on which Ballamy also featured. Safir and Ballamy's purely instrumental version of Ellington's Come Sunday is an added treat. Recorded over three days at Cooper Hall in the Somerset countryside and engineered, mixed and mastered by Ben Findlay (Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel), the album sounds terrific too.