Putting a new album by Ian Shaw in the CD player is always a spine tingling moment. There's inevitably something new in his approach, and this time it's the immensely loving and tender nature of Ian's homage to Fran Landesman that shines through. It is beautifully conceived and performed - interestingly, on most of the tracks, it is Simon Wallace, not Ian, who is playing the piano and the combination of player and singer is sublime. I new a couple of Fran's songs before but I honestly had no idea of the range and quality of her material. I'm converted and I keep hearing myself singing extracts out loud on the tube - scary! This album from a man who deserves to be a national treasure is sheer genius - buy it!
Ian Shaw continues to be rightly lauded in jazz circles, with each new album providing its own worthwhile eclectic challenge. Released by Splash Point Records, Ian's latest collection is an intimate affair dedicated to the gifted lyricist Fran Landesman (1919-2011) who lead an extremely colourful life as well as writing memorable songs with sophisticated leanings. Whilst the best known is probably SPRING CAN REALLY HANG YOU UP THE MOST (music:-Tommy Wolf), I always consider BALLAD OF THE SAD YOUNG MEN (music:-Tommy Wolf) my personal favourite with its pathos previously explored by Steve Lawrence and Shirley Bassey to name but two outstanding vocalists who grasp its mood of inner loneliness and personal conflict in late-night New York bars, especially as that number is here enhanced by the haunting presence of Sue Richardson's flugelhorn. Ian's version is by far the most heartfelt of all but along the way his long association with the Landesman output has mainly centred on Fran's later collaboration with composer/pianist Simon Wallace who appropriately accompanies Ian on the majority of the album's choices. With the exception of the more upbeat FEET DO YOUR STUFF, NOTHING IS MINE NOW and IN A NEW YORK MINUTE, the wistful mood set by singer and pianist lends its own poignancy through LOVE GO ROUND,IN A MATTER OF MOMENTS and DOWN as well as previously unrecorded songs, STRANGER, KILLING TIME, NOIR, and NOTHING LASTS FOREVER. Songs such as these deal with deep personal and occasionally comedic emotional issues so take their time to inwardly digest but once in place they retain their power thanks to Ian's masterful interpretations.
I was introduced to Ian Shaw by Sarah Moule, another top class interpreter of Fran Landesman's work. I can only endorse in the strongest measure the praise heaped on this album by other reviewers. Fran left us with a wealth of delightful, playful and insightful poetry and musical collaborations. Her books of poems are a joy. In Ian and Sarah we have two British vocalists if immense stature. Enjoy their cds and support their live performances.