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This is a straightahead jazz singer's album of blues-related songs, so what can a contemporary singer do to step out of the crowd of generic rivals, or rise above the great performances of the past?
Anita Wardell, the UK-resident Australia-raised singer, has been one of the most engaging live performers on standard material over a decade, and last year's Noted album rightly won acclaim.
The yearning, lost-love quality that inevitably clings to some of this material gives the album something of a languorous, dinner-jazzy quality and Wardell reserves her compelling combination of Norma Winston's stillness and purity and her own forceful swing and bop-scat agility for the later stages.
There's a fine account of The Meaning of the Blues, some quirkily Monkish instrument-like improve and a little Hammond organ earthiness, with excellent pianist Robin Aspland typically sharp-eared. But hardnosed jazzers might want a bit more grit and edge.
JF, The Guardian
Australia's loss has been London's gain for more than a decade in Anita Wardell, whose natural affinity with swing and scat allied with that rare ability to sensitively express a ballad and make a song her own, is the complete package. Add her penchant for vocalese (singing words to jazz solos) and you have something very special. The 2006 BBC Jazz awards winner's second album for the label is built around the word "blues" although some songs are only related. Enjoy the ebullient scat singing (Limehouse Blues), expressive longing (I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues) and the quirky (Loose Bloose).
Kevin Jones- Sydney, Australia 2009