Jazz Views (UK)

With Songbook, Georgia Mancio and Alan Broadbent present a set of original songs that not so much recall the tradition of the Great American Songbook, but respectfully request a place among  them. Carrying on the work of such luminaries as Harry Warren, the Gershwins and Rodgers & Hart, the pair have written songs of intricate beauty that as well as acknowledging their musical heritage enhance and build on it, and establishing themselves in the process as one of the most formidable songwriting partnerships of the 21st century.

In a world that it is littered with hyberbole, here we have the real thing. Music that is deeply heartfelt, expressive and exquisitely played, and able to communicate on multiple levels. All the songs have their own unique story to tell, some of which have a very specific and personal meaning as with the ‘The Last Goodbye’. Originally entitled ‘The Long Goodbye and written for Charlie Haden’s Quartet West, with Mancio’s poignant  lyrics we have a tender ballad in which Georgia tells of the final visit to her late father’s house, and the memories that the visit brought forth.

For the other songs we find music from the pianist’s past rekindled with Georgia’s lyrics,  such as the gently swinging opener ‘The Journey Home’ and the wonderful vocalese on the bebop driven ‘One For Bud’ all rubbing shoulders with some new pieces. ‘Hide Me From The Moonlight’ tells of a lost love told beautifully by Georgia’s soul searching vocal and Broadbent’s full and sympathetic accompaniment that is full of sorrow. This is immediately followed by the much more optimistic ‘Forever’ that embraces the innocence of childhood and the joys of life that lie ahead of them.

Writing of this calibre deserves nothing less than to be impeccably delivered, and this the assembled cast do and then some. If Georgia and Alan are able to totally get inside these songs as performers as well as composers, then so do the superb bass and drums combo of Oli Hayhurst and Dave Ohm. Hayhurst’s playing has all the attributes of the greats, and he plays with a firm yet pliable tone that is a joy to listen to whether providing sympathetic support on the ballads or gently powering along the more uptempo numbers, his note placement is right on the money. This is further enhance by Ohm’s drumming that is always unobtrusive with bushes or sticks, yet is forceful enough to lift his colleagues up a notch to that higher plane where everything seems just so effortless.

This is one of those albums where the quality just shines out on every track, and everything seems to have come together at just the right moment. A sparkling blend of instrumental and vocal mastery coupled with the perfect songs. You will have to search long and hard to find a better collection of songs than this, and it is hoped that this is just the first recording to come out of this fruitful writing partnership.

File your copy alongside Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae and Ella’s songbook albums.