Jazz Views (UK), Best of 2021 Albums

albums of the year 2021

For those who have been following the career of Georgia Mancio over the last twenty years they will have heard in each new album steady and consistent progress. Each album more confident and assured than the last, and with a constant desire to push herself and her music. However, nothing could prepare us for the magnificent Songbook released in 2017. An exquisite album of original songs penned by US pianist, composer and arranger Alan Broadbent with lyrics by Georgia with music that touched both the heart and mind. This association with Alan, originating from some initial duo performances in 2013, to their first writing collaboration with the pianist inviting Georgia to add a lyric to his composition ‘The Long (Last) Goodbye’.

This was the beginning of what has rapidly become a very special and inspirational partnership that has now produced thirty three songs penned by the duo, with twelve presented on the Songbook album, and now we have Quiet Is The Star, a beautiful set of duets that is even more intimate and continues to set the bar incredibly high. Music making of incredible stature, that once again highlights the fragility and vulnerability, and also the best in human nature.

The music and lyrics written by Alan and Georgia are just sublime. A musical pairing made in heaven and just simply meant to be. A perfect marriage of music, words and minds that explore a gamut of human emotions in a way that is heartfelt, poignant and at times melancholy,  but ultimately uplifting.  The songs are so compelling and intimate that when listening to the album you are drawn so far into the lyrics and the delicate touch at the piano, that the music speaks directly to you. Listening with headphones, your surroundings disappear and you are left with just the voice and piano and invited into a musical world that encapsulates the core of what it is to love, lose and find again.

Each individual song tells its own story, beautifully told with Alan’s sensitive and lyrical playing and Georgia’s touching and sensitive lyrics, and all at a tempo that allows the tale to unfold with every note, phrase and nuance made to count.
The sense of loss in ‘When You’ve Gone From Me’ is palpable in a song that tugs at the heartstrings, and the innocence of youth and the optimism that accompanies it is captured in ‘All My Life’. However, picking out individual tracks does not convey the sheer majesty of the album, and on each listening a different song will resonate as one hears the lyrics weave their spellbinding stories.

With the release of Songbook, I wrote of Georgia and Alan’s writing association as “one of the most formidable song writing partnerships of the 21st century” and this new recording consolidates that belief. There is something magical that occurs when these two musical minds come together, creating music of beauty and purity that takes the breath away. Quiet Is The Star is one of those recordings that after hearing is impossible to forget, and music that is destined to be regarded as the classic songs of our time. With the publication of the book, The Songs Of Alan Broadbent & Georgia Mancio due to coincide with the release of the album, one hopes that the remaining songs are also recorded and indeed that more songs are written by this incredibly creative partnership.