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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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Joe Williams

Here’s to Life

Telarc Jazz. CD-83357.

 


1. Here’s To Life
2. What a Wonderful World
3. When I Fall in Love
4. I Found a Million Dollar Baby
5. If I Had You
6. Maybe September
7. Save That Time
8. Young and Foolish
9. I Didn’t Know About You
10. Little Sir Echo
11. Someone You’ve Loved
12. A Time For Love
13. Here’s To Life
Vocals: Joe Williams
The Robert Farnon Orchestra:
Violins:

Raymond Cohen
Gillian Cohen
Liz Edwards
Homie Kanga
Raymond Keenlyside
Belinda Blunt
Rachel Cohen
Diana Cumminngs
Trevor Williams
Jonathan Strange
Roy Wilson
Roger Garland
Celia Sheen
Mike Berrow
John Ronayne
Madeleine Whitelaw
Violas:

John Underwood
Kenneth Essex
Michael Ponder
Celli:

Anthony Pleeth
Keith Harvey
Denis Vigay
Bass:

Chris Lawrence
Lennie Bush
Woodwinds:

Tommy Whittle
Peter Hughes
Dennis Walton
Roy Wilcox
Oboe, English Horn:

Sian Davies
French Horns:

Paul Pritchard
John Pigneguy
John Rooke
Trombones:

Don Lusher
Chris Dean
Bill Geldard
Drums:

Jack Parnell
Guitar:

Louis Stewart
Harp:

Hugh Webb
Piano, Celeste and DX7:

Laurie Holloway
 

Having made his name with the great Count Basie, Williams stood accused of treason - of turning his back on the serious stuff to indulge in pop music trivialities. His response, however, was simply to laugh. To Williams, these ballads are ‘beautiful dance music, the kind that inspires people to hold each other in their arms... It’s an intimacy and a joining, an aesthetic transference where you’re almost vicariously involved in a romance between other people.’

Certainly, couples prepared to ‘involve’ Williams in their relationship will end up in bed before the album is through - but chances are the early night will little to do with romance. Of course he’s a talented singer - sensitive, controlled and incredibly versatile. And, yes, Robert Farnon’s arrangements are impressive - thoughtful, intelligent and often stylish. But there’s only so much sentimentality the average jazz fan can take. And, with little by way of experimentation or, for that matter, rhythm, it’s difficult to fight the growing boredom as another soppy ballad begins.

If you like your jazz watered down a little - and have no great aversion to cheese - then Here’s to Life may be the perfect purchase. But, when the words ‘Easy Listening’ spring to mind, I tend to look elsewhere.
 
 Robert Gibson



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