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

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Lock My Heart

Redhouse Records RHR CD 258



1. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
2. Lullaby of Birdland
3. Since I Fell for You
4. Love is Here to Stay
5. September Song
6. Lost In The Stars
7. Love for Sale
8. If I Called You
9. I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good
10. A Flower is a Lovesome Thing
11. Morning Drinker
12. I'm Gonna Lock My Heart (And Throw Away the Key)

Heather Masse - Vocals
Dick Hyman - Piano


I know that when I encounter a CD like this - with a vocalist simply accompanied by a pianist - I ought to be listening primarily to the singer, as she has top billing. But I found myself listening more to the accompanist, since Dick Hyman is an impeccable pianist - as near perfect as you can get.

This is not to say that Heather Masse is a bad singer: she generally sings in tune and with a certain amount of feeling, although she sounds like numerous other female singers who seem to be proliferating unstoppably. Her voice is light and high-pitched - in fact on I'm Gonna Lock My Heart she sounds like Rose Murphy. She can be careless with lyrics: for instance, in September Song she sings "the autumn weather turns the leaves too far" when the last two words should be "to flame" - to rhyme with "waiting game". And her pronunciation of lyrics is not always clear. She is a pleasant singer but not outstanding. She also writes songs: If I Called You and Morning Drinker are her compositions, although the words are difficult to follow.

All the same, my attention is constantly drawn to Hyman's accompaniments - for instance, to the way that he leads into each vocal phrase with perfect preambles. Note his introduction to Lullaby of Birdland, which is as flowery and mysterious as an Erroll Garner introduction. He proceeds to accompany Heather with single bass notes and then stride piano, throwing in some bonus Garnerisms. His solo changes key halfway through and his hands prance over the piano in an elfin dance. The coda he plays before Heather's last three words is almost symphonic. In Since I Fell For You, he accompanies Heather with triplets which give the song a poppish quality. And just savour the delicacy of his playing in A Flower is a Lovesome Thing.

Dick Hyman is a phenomenon, especially as he is aged 85. This may explain how in all those years he has built up the experience to accompany a singer with such exemplary and appropriate skill.

Tony Augarde

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