Various: Heart Of Mine, Songs Of Ross Lorraine 

Mike Walker and Laurence Cottle are in the section behind six singers including Claire Martin, Gwyneth Herbert, Liane Carroll and Ian Shaw

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Ross Lorraine’s compositions range through contemporary classical, stage shows and popular song. ​He also plays piano and sings, although it as composer and lyricist that he features here. Responsible for this album’s concept is Claire Martin, long a leading figure on the UK jazz scene and someone who also enjoys a worldwide reputation. On this occasion, Martin is a wearer of many hats, including producer and singer, and sports them with effortless style.

To perform Lorraine’s songs, Martin brought into the studio five other singers, all of them leading figures, each with a distinctive sound and style. They are Gwyneth Herbert, Liane Carroll, Sara Colman, Luca Manning and Ian Shaw.

It is 30 years since Martin’s recording debut, Linn Records’ The Waiting Game, and she has retained all the fine qualities she displayed then. Additionally, she has advanced her understanding of the genre and is firmly in the top echelon of today’s jazz singers. Here, she sings Body Language and The Name Of The Game and also duets with Ian Shaw on one song, and with Herbert and Colman provides backing vocals on some other songs.

Herbert, who sings Play On and They’re Playing Our Song, has an effortlessly graceful vocal sound. Like Lorraine, she is also a composer and, like Martin, a record producer. Carroll is an exceptionally talented singer-pianist and delivers huskily intimate performances of The Waiting Game and Heart Of Mine. Colman, who sings Pull You Back and All Our Days with nuanced understanding, is also a composer whose work extends through various genres. Manning, who sings Like Love and We Will Sing Again, is another songwriter whose performances here reveal an underlying appreciation of jazz. Shaw, here singing A Silent Cry, and also duetting with Martin on I’m By Your Side, is another well-established figure on the UK jazz scene whose warm vocal sound is ideally suited to this setting. Altogether, this is a rewarding and very well performed exploration of a songwriter’s oeuvre.

In the press release, Gwyneth Herbert observes: “Sweetly meandering melodies, timeless lyrics tinged with nostalgia – ​Ross Lorraine’s songs are a joy to sing.” While at first glance this might appear to be extravagant praise, on reflection it’s hard to disagree.

Discography
(1) Play On; (2) Body Language; (3) The Waiting Game; (4) Pull You Back; (5) Like Love; (6) I’m By Your Side; (2) The Name Of The Game; (3) Heart Of Mine; (5) We Will Sing Again; (4) All Our Days; (7) A Silent Cry; (1) They’re Playing Our Song (43.56)
(1) Gwyneth Herbert (v). (2) Claire Martin (v). (3) Liane Carroll (v). (4) Sara Colman (v). (5) Luca Manning (v). (6) Ian Shaw & Claire Martin (v). (7) Ian Shaw (v). All with Rob Barron (p, kyb); Mike Walker (g); Laurence Cottle (elb); Elliott Henshaw (d). London. 27-30 September 2021.
Soup To Nuts STN001