Loved every track of The Story So Far.
I first heard Sarah Ellen Hughes at The Stables Wavendon when she was principal singer for NYJO. Cleo Laine fell ill and Sarah was summoned at the last minute to fill in for her. After the set, John Dankworth cheered and led the applause - I guess he'd be leading it now. In her twenties, she has matured into one of our finest young jazz singers and frequently tours with her own band.
The songs on The Story So Far are an eclectic bunch designed to show Sarah's considerable technique and talents ranging from a touching rendering of Hendrix's Little Wing to one of her own songs, Busy Bee which no doubt reflects her present life-style (seems to be written in 7/4?). She does all her own arrangements which are masterful and, in the case of numbers like Honeysuckle Rose, totally charming. Rodgers and Hammerstein might be surprised to hear her take on My Favourite Things but she's respectful of the quality and intention of each number.
Do I have a favourite track? Can't make up my mind but I find the sexy rendering in Portuguese of Corcovado very beguiling. In other numbers I like the way she teases and stretches the band with her scatting. Get Out of Town would perhaps benefit from being a tad slower.
The music for the title song of the album The Story so Far was written by the splendid saxophonist Dave O'Higgins, in his words "as my attempt at writing a standard". On the sleeve notes, Sarah says she loved it from the first time she heard it when they were on the same bill at a gig, asked permission to write lyrics to the tune and here it is heading the new CD.
As if she hasn't already had enough fun, the disc ends with a track from Sector7, the stunning close-harmony group she's formed and leads.
Sarah toyed with becoming a classical singer and the range and strength of her voice reflects this but hey, the girl's hip and jazz won.