Thanks to Roger Eatough for bringing this review to my attention!
“When I think of female vocalist/piano duets, I am immediately drawn to the albums made by Ella Fitzgerald and Paul Smith (‘The Intimate Ella’) and Ellis Larkin Larkins (‘Pure Ella’). For me, these were classics of the very highest order. If your style of Ella vocals are of the Mack The Knife type, these albums may not have been your cup of tea. For me, they rank, alongside the Buddy Bregman albums (‘Sings Cole Porter’ and ‘Sings Rogers and Hart’), as her very best work.
That I mention these Ella classics is a clue to what I am about to write about this wonderful new album from Heather Cairncross and David Newton. I must confess I am completely bowled over. I warn you you now that I might even run out of superlatives in trying to convey my complete and utter delight at this album……..
Heather Cairncross was a complete unknown quantity to me before I listened to this CD. I know I should get out more! Of course, David Newton did already rank in my own list of the very best Mainstream pianists. However, as an accompanist, he just exels. I have written before how the art of the accompaniment demands more than the usual skill of ensemble playing or, at least a different skill. The knack is to give as much support to the vocalist without coming between the vocalist and the song. This collaboration is an object lesson in achieving that balance.
David Newton’s fertile mind produces an easy, continuous flow of ideas and musical figures, adding so much to the vocal. And what about those vocals! Heather Cairncross has a superb, crystal-clear approach to the lyric. Every word is given the right emphasis, every phrase it’s due respect. Her diction is as close to perfection as I have ever heard.
Add to all this a choice of songs, which are some of the very best standards ever written, and the recipe just can’t fail. These are classics by Harry Warren, Hoagy Carmichael, Victor Young, Jerome Kern, Vernon Duke, Rodgers and Hart, and the Gershwins, plus two songs with lyrics by Alan and Marylin Bergman – what a selection! Another beautiful (but somewhat neglected) song is the last track, Some Other Time, from Berstein’s On The Town.
I am not overstating it to suggest this recording is absolutely exceptional. No ifs or buts, it is as good as any vocal album I have ever heard for a very long time. Just superb!”
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