It’s impossible to follow the speed at which Alan Broadbent’s career continues to move in the age … of experience. After his huge album for jazz trio and orchestra Developing Story (Eden River, 2017), we get a new album, more intimate but no less seductive, piano and voice trio with British singer and lyricist Georgia Mancio. The album is called Songbook and it talks about vital moments through emotional and evocative lyrics, which find a perfect interlocutor on the piano.
The press release says that Mancio first heard Broadbent 20 years ago from his albums with Irene Kral and that they have collaborated together since 2013. United by a common passion towards the music of Gershwin and Rodgers & Hart, the pianist asked Georgia Mancio to write some lyrics to one of his compositions for Quartet West, the formation in which Broadbent had worked with Charlie Haden, Ernie. Watts and Laurance Marable. The song was “The Long (Last) Goodbye” and appears on the album along with 11 other songs written together over a period of nine months.
Since we already know and admire Alan Broadbent and try to follow him in all his prolific adventures, we will try to describe the sensations of discovering in Songbook a singer and lyricist of whom (we regret) we had no news until now.
Georgia Mancio’s voice has the elegance of the great singers of Jazz. She does not shout, use flurries of embellishment or scat, but instead wields her velvety voice with a natural fluidity, like a long flowing evening gown: spectacular but discreet. It’s impossible not to be seduced by its cadence. From the simplicity of the opening theme (“The Journey Home”) , we see a perfect communion between the beauty of the piano phrases and those of the singer. Later delicacies such as “Hide Me From The Moonlight” or the sad and nostalgic “Lullaby for MM” confirm these feelings.
Even in rhythmic and warm songs like bossa “Someone’s Sun”, it maintains that subtlety. She picks out high notes at times, like a pianist would in a solo, but it is always contained and elegant. By the way, Alan Broadbent’s solo here is intoxicating in its simplicity (after all, bossa is still a cliché). Knowing this, one might think that a bebop song like “One For Bud” (an obvious tribute to Bud Powell) would be a challenge for this singer, including the difficulty of writing the lyrics, but she knows how to pull this off. The cheerful “Just Like A Child” is also worthy of mention for the piano solo and the delicious interplay between both voices, that of Mancio and that of Broadbent, as if they really sang in duet.
In short, it’s a band we would like to see live. On the album, the trio accompanying the singer are completed by Oli Hayhurst on double bass and Dave Ohm on drums and percussion, although Mancio and Broadbent are also seen as a duo live.