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Reviewers: Tony Augarde, Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux,, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thomson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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I Live in a Condo

One Little Kiss

The Day I Learned French

In a World Made Small

One More Time to Say Goodbye

Aeolian Shade

Swing Me Low

Moonshadow Dance

Birthday Song

Generic

Cantando o Amor

You Make It Look So Easy

Um Minuto a Mais

I’m Not Susceptible to Love

To Have to Hold to Love

Cantando o Amor (reprise)

That’s It!

Rebecca Kilgore (vocals): Randy Porter (piano): Tom Wakeling (bass): Todd Strait (drums and rainstick): Mike Horsfall (vibes): David Evans (tenor sax): John Moak (trombone): Tim Jensen (flute and alto flute): Israel Annoh (percussion): Dan Balmer (guitar): Steve Christofferson (melodica): Dick Titterington (flugelhorn): Susannah Mars (vocals): Marco de Carvalho (guitar)

Recorded 2014, Dead Aunt Thelma’s Recording Studio, Portland, OR

 

Sixteen succinct tracks, all – words and music – variously by Rebecca Kilgore, Ellen Vanderslice and Mike Horsfall means inevitably no standards, about which normally I find myself grumbling. However so charming and witty are the tunes and lyrics that I feel hard-pressed to condemn so elegant an album.

The trio of pianist Randy Porter, bass Tom Wakeling and drummer Todd Strait supports Kilgore with supple eloquence and they are joined here and there by additional players who each add colour and texture to the music-making. For example, the finger-clickingly hip I Live in a Condo is abetted by David Evans’ tenor sax and Horsfall’s vibes. The bossa feel of One Little Kiss with its aerial flute playing by Tim Jensen reveals Kilgore’s multi-faceted stylistic accomplishment, her rhythmic precision, whilst the melodica in The Day I Learned French appositely insinuates a musette feel to this avuncular and knowing song. The cosmopolitan wit of these songs enshrines a classic songbook element – articulate, wide-ranging, jazzy but supper club inclined too – and that’s all to the good. The bluesy hues of One More Time to Say Goodbye do indeed seem to mine the Great American Songbook vernacular – as well as the super-articulate lyrics there’s a fine bass solo too.

The title track with its overdubbed birthday crowd is notable for the witty words whilst there’s infectious bounce in You Make It Look So Easy where Kilgore is joined by fellow vocalist Susannah Mars for a delightful workout. Both Kilgore and Horsfall certainly, and presumably Vanderslice too, are partial to the Latin muse. There’s a Latin-Jazz vibe to Un Minuto a mais, during which Porter plays one of his very best solos, gluing things together with impeccable taste. There’s a perfect slow ballad in the shape of To Have, to Hold, to Love.

The only instrumental is Horsfall’s Cantando o Amor, a Latino-leaning number complete with rich-toned flugelhorn solo courtesy of Dick Titterington but there is a reprise of it with just guitarist Marco de Carvalho and Kilgore, where the words are by Vanderslice.

This varied, warm-toned and most attractive album shows that the Songbook is alive and well and it’s in the hands of the triumphant but unostentatious trio of Kilgore, Vanderslice and Horsfall, not forgetting their adroit and lyrically-minded instrumental collaborators.

Jonathan Woolf


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