Just bought this after a long eight months of waiting. Ian's singing is amazing. I cannot stop playing his version of Skylark. And I Get Along Without You Very Well. I defy anyone to hear this without Crying. The band and production is just superb, obviously a true labour of love. Standout tracks are the above and a great version of Obsession with ace guitar work from David Preston. Peter Ind!!!!! How did that happen. We couldn't get a ticket for the London dates as they were sold out but we will be going to Swanage festival for sure. HIGHLY recommended.
Okay, he's not Mr Buble but there are those (me included) who would say that's a good thing. I saw Ian Shaw in Cafe Rio (for non-Glasgegians it's a small cafe, decor and furnishings little changed from the 50s/60s, which is now a great wee local pub and music venue) as part of this year's Glasgo wINternational Jazz Festival. What a voice, what a pianist and what a great choice of songs - if you're looking for someone who churns out predictable versions of the Great American Songbook - it's not Ian Shaw. If you've not heard him before - try it.
If you already know Ian Shaw you won't be surprised that this album is a technically excellent delivery of Ian Shaw's voice with some stellar musicians like Peter Ind providing a bass part worth paying attention to and Gene Calderazzo possibly under used on kit, allowing for a couple of lovely double bass/vocal duets.
For those of you who don't know Ian Shaw, prepare to be impressed by a jazz musician with an irritatingly large range who writes complicated vocal rhythms and pulls them off seemingly effortlessly with some great use of portamento. For a good example of this try the clip of "The Lady's in love with you" and marvel at the design of Peter Ind's walking bass score which is simple in its rhythm, so as to not step on Ian's toes, but complex in its melody.
Also noteworthy is David Preston's efforts on guitar which are very well tailored to the mood of each piece he plays in. Preston often inserts little licks which really work to add to complexity the pieces (for example around 3:11 in Lady). Zhenya Strigalev plays some very upbeat sax solos in several tracks (most notably "Get out of Town") and provides superb accompaniment throughout in a duet with trumpeter Miguel Gorodi (who was, impressively, still studying in Guildhall while he recorded the album).
I was a tad disappointed not to hear the piano feature more prominently in the album as it was played very subtly by Phil Ware whose subdued and technical chord building style is very much brought through into the piano pieces in the album. Especially insulting is the piano's demotion to bass instrument (while, in my opnion, Peter Ind needs no help) in "Get out of Town" in the middle of which you are offered the tantalising idea that there's about to be a piano solo (at about 1:40) but then the sax jumps in to deliver a punchy solo instead.
Despite that I love all but one song on the album ("Human Nature" - and I can still admit that it is lovingly and competently recreated in a very different style to the MJ original). This album is very much worth a purchase especially "The Lady's in love with you" and "Obsession". If you're a Peter Ind fan then "Stairway to the stars" is a duet for just him and Ian Shaw and is very relaxing.
Why isnt he a superstar? I saw him recently, paired up with Madeline Bell, and the evening was sublime. The voice owes a debt to Al Jarreau and others but is still uniquely Ian Shaw and the piano playing is measured, precise and soulful all at the same time.