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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Darning the Dream




  1. That's All
  2. On a Misty Night/Misty
  3. Devil May Care
  4. Darning the Dream
  5. Love for Sale
  6. Workin' Hard
  7. You Go To My Head
  8. When Sunny Gets Blue
  9. Some People
  10. But Not For Me
  11. A Hymn for Janet

Sarah Ellen Hughes (vocals and flute): Dave O'Higgins (saxophone): Ian Shaw (vocals); Rick Simpson (piano): Tom Farmer, Andy Hamill (bass): Jim Hart (vibes); Darren Altman (drums)
rec. June-August 2009, Clown's Pocket Studios


A naturally swinging musician, with a finely controlled vibrato, a keen ear for apposite songs, an avoidance of an all-purpose transatlantic accent, and knack for gathering like-minded confreres: that's Sarah Ellen Hughes. If you need to package her - and I don't but some might - I'd say she's listened to Anita O'Day closely and has assimilated Ella Fitzgerald's propensity to scat, something - as on That's All - I can well do without, but which is liked in some circles. When Ian Shaw joins to joust in a scat battle in Devil May Care I have to admit I switch off, but it's undeniably exciting and virtuosic.

Her boppish phrasing is evident on Misty, cleverly segued with On a Misty Night. Semi-ubiquitous Dave O'Higgins lends some Latin grooves to Afro Blue. Darning the Dream is all one could reasonably ask - sensitively phrased, fine vibes from Jim Hart, and a winner of a coda. The unexpectedly demotic lyrics to Love for Sale, I noticed, are by none other than Sting - they add an undeniable verit‚ to the proceedings, though a rather blatant one. Shaw is on more conventional ground on When Sunny Gets Blue where Hughes plays flute. Her own song, Workin' Hard drolly deals with life on the road, and making copies of her CDs to sell. Some People is another original - a soulful opus that engages strongly

But one of the things I most liked about her singing is encapsulated in a small detail from You Go To My Head where she sings `..that you might...' rather than the more often encountered `...that you might...' I liked the particularity of this, and also the melodic tweaking, which works - so too the long vibes solo. A Hymn for Janet is a deeply and richly sensitive envoi.

From Georgie Fame inspired vocalise on But Not For Me to a careful curating of the standard repertoire Hughes proves up to the challenges. She has a fine band - with Rick Simpson ever supportive on piano. The two bass players alternate.

Jonathan Woolf

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