Ciyo: Can We Pretend

Crooner and sometime guitar player mixes originals and songbook covers in a polished easy-listening and smooth-jazz session

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Slick and polished, Can We Pretend offers up a selection of original material from Ciyo Brown and some covers of the likes of Harold Arlen, Billy Strayhorn, Lennon and McCartney, David Gates and George Gershwin.

Ciyo croons and plays the guitar, or as the liner notes put it, goes on “vocal excursions with a tinge of guitar”. This is mellow, late-night fare, certainly in the easy-listening, smooth-jazz category. Ciyo has an impressive vocal range but seems most at home in the lower registers, struggling a bit with the high-end notes in some songs.

He’s accompanied by a solid trio of Neville Malcolm, Robin Aspland and Pete Adam-Hill, respectively on bass, piano and drums. Variety is added with strings and trumpet on some tracks, but it feels most at home when Ciyo is singing with the trio. The covers are done with taste and respect for the original material but don’t really say anything new; maybe they don’t need to in such a chilled setting. Only S’Wonderful feels like it drags its feet a bit and outstays its welcome.

The final track, So Tender, reveals what the album could have been like with a bit more focus on Ciyo’s guitar rather than vocals. Again, it’s polished, well-produced music – a few more tracks like this would have given the album a bit more balance in content.

Discography
It’s Only A Paper Moon; Borderline: Lush Life; Can We Pretend; I Will; Eyes That Glow; Again; I Wanna Make It With You; Jazzy Mood For Love; S’Wonderful; So Tender (56.23)
Ciyo Brown (g, v); Neville Malcolm (b); Robin Aspland (p); Pete Adam-Hill (d); Ellen Blair (arr, vla); Jenny Adejayan (clo); Gill Morley (vn); Kevin Robinson (t). Slipway Studios, no recording date.
Ciyo Groove Music CGM7