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WENDY KIRKLAND

The Music’s on Me

PRIVATE [53:03]

 

Wendy Kirkland (piano, vocals): Pat Sprakes (guitar): Paul Jefferies (double bass): Steve Wyndham (drums): Roger Beaujolais (vibraphone): Tommaso Starace (saxophone)

The Music’s on Me

Haven’t we met

Pools

Sandalia Dela

Playground

Nothing like you

September Second

West Coast Blues

Gato Molhado

Sunday In New York

Travelling Home.

Wendy Kirkland’s first album Piano Divas was released back in 2017 to real acclaim. Now here is the follow-up from the British pianist and singer, an eleven-track CD with her regular group but with the added attraction of two guests, saxophonist Tommaso Starace – himself the subject of reviews on this site - and outstanding veteran vibes player Roger Beaujolais.

There are three Kirkland originals, co-written with guitarist Pat Sprakes, and together they contribute lyrics to Wes Montgomery’s West Coast Blues and the remaining tracks offer variety and imagination of selection. With a springy, swinging easy-going The Music in Me – one of those three Kirkland/Sprakes originals – the quartet gets off to a genial start and things stretch out intriguingly – good harmonies, good changes – in Haven’t We Met Before where Kirkland’s comping to her own singing is both clever and dextrous. She even does what I take to be a little Cleo-inspired scat, too. There’s no overdubbing, as anyone who has caught her in a club setting can attest; her singing and playing simultaneously is pure musicianship and she makes it sound easy – which it really can’t be.

The tightness of the ensemble can be enjoyed in Pools, the longest track, in which Beaujolais adds layers of colour to enhance the quartet, a number full of esprit. He also stars in Russell Malone’s Playground whether soloing or providing deft obbligato support. There’s also a sun-drenched and foot-tapping Latin numberSandalia Dela, and an ardent, fast-flowing so-in-loveNothing Like You. If you wanted lyrics to Michel Petrucciani’s September Second, here they are, courtesy of Kirkland, but even better is her infectiously swinging piano solo and the articulate presence of Storace.

The lyrics to the Montgomery song are effective and seem to inspire Sprakes to some of his very best playing on the date – he’s a fine player indeed – and that’s not to overlook Kirkland’s rolling piano groove. To conclude there’s the slow narrative journey on the Kirkland-Sprakes Travelling Home, a pertinent title to end an album inspired by life ‘on the road’ in which the very individual commentary of Storace’s soprano sax adds aerial grace to this languid envoi.

This excellent album reprises the qualities of Kirkland’s first. And let’s by no means overlook bassist and bass guitarist Paul Jefferies and drummer Steve Wyndham who provide outstanding support throughout.

Jonathan Woolf


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