Jazzwise

★★★★

From the incredibly touching album opener ‘The Journey Home’ to the hauntingly beautiful ‘Lullaby For MM’ with which it signs off, this collaboration between vocalist and lyricist Georgia Mancio and pianist, composer and arranger Alan Broadbent presents a collection of 12 outstanding, sublimely subtle songs.

Broadbent’s pianism is dazzling throughout, drawing at will from the lexicon of jazz, but also nodding to some of his classical music proclivities, including a brief reference to the final movement of Rachmaninov’s ‘Piano Concerto No 2’ at the end of ‘Close To The Moon’.

With themes ranging from childhood to old age, with all points in between, Mancio’s lyrics consistently hit the emotional and aesthetic bullseye. Other highlights include ‘Forever’, a jazz waltz which singlehandedly exorcises the ghosts of Gene Lees’ cheesy lyrics to ‘Waltz For Debby’, the unusually chromatic melodic line of ‘Cherry Tree’, with Broadbent’s solo conjuring up cascades of notes which fall like petals, the increasingly impassioned, almost Ravelian sensuousness of ‘Hide Me From The Moonlight’, and the virtuosic vocalise of ‘One For Bud’.

An album of outstanding beauty and power, repeated hearings of Songbook only serve to increase your admiration.