Issue 89 - Winter 2005

Liane Carroll - Standard Issue

Standard issue? Hardly. Such strong-lunged, wood-smoked throatiness is not given but earned, through years of hard gigging (with the likes of Paul McCartney and Ladysmith Black Mombasa no less). And Liane Carroll can sing deep: think Nina Simone or Cleo Laine, but with a sound all her own. The 'Best Vocalist' and 'Best of Jazz' awards that she picked up in July at the BBC Jazz Awards were deserved, but overdue: not just for her singing, but also for her superlative piano-playing and arrangements.
Nor are the songs standard issue either, with rarities such as 'The Briar And The Rose' (Tom Waits) and 'You've Got a Friend' (Carole King), and an original composition from Carroll herself, 'Three Sheets To The Wind'. Even old warhorses like 'Eleanor Rigby' and 'How Insensitive' are kitted out with new bridles and saddles - but no blinkers, the songs leaping over a steeplechase of genres. Check out the jazz scatting on 'That Old Black Magic', and 'California Shoeshine Boys' with its funky, blues-drenched Rhodes piano; the bossa 'How Insensitive' with nothing but John Parricelli's acoustic guitar and Bobby Wellins' solo that's as good as it (Stan) Gets; or the folk-rock tinges on 'He's a Runner' and 'At Seventeen'.

Jazz purists may raise their eyebrows at this mingling of genres, and rock and folk fans close their minds if they so much as sniff the word 'jazz'. Tell them all to have a listen and make up their own minds. Just don't try telling them what genre it is.    Julian Maynard-Smith

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