Yes Yes Yes Sunday Jammers hope you are well, managing to stay upright and that smiles are boundless wherever you are. I am all smiles and extra this week sending a huge shout out and Happy Anniversary to all the people dem in the Loose Lips Collective who are celebrating six years of being. Yes Yes Yes. Hope you have locked into some of the live stream (part one, part two) over the last couple of days and wiled out to some tunes, I busted out some-only-to be-ever-done-in-the-privacy-of-your-house club stepping in my kitchen, was heavy. Happy Anniversary peoples looking forward to more of it.
So, this week ends the Jazz stop and I am so happy to report that the results have been much better than I could ever have wished for. Not only that I am happy to climb down off what was a confusing perch and leave the wary tone far, far, far behind. We are by no means full hombres yet but like any solid foundation it takes time to build, but I am wandering in with more confidence and a greater understanding of the scope of what Jazz is and what it can articulate. This last entry is dedicated to female Jazz singers, well really the Jazz singer but I was so captured by so many of the incredible female singers – literally held in the siren cries – did not leave any time for male voices, another time for sure.
The Jazz singer is an almost hallowed space that has been filled with the voices of so many, many incredible, unique voices, approaches and points of view, it’s hard not to think of these singers as earthly deities. From the holy trinity of Fitzgerald, Holiday and Vaughn who spanned the spectrum of vocal range and points of view from agile gymnastics to raw intonation, the common thread being expression of emotion no matter the range or school of thought. Conveying feeling was the primary goal, so check to you all. The list includes Anita O’Day, Peggy Lee, Nina Simone, Bessie Smith and Betty Carter to name a few. All these voices have elevated music, created pockets in the minds of anyone who listens; fuelling imaginations, striking chords you didn’t know you had. Today’s track sits somewhere between all those spaces, from a vocalist whose star never rose to full heights of the trinity but matches all in talent and musical audacity; Dakota Staton and on this track, she collaborates with British Jazz Pianist George Shearing.
The track is ‘In the night’ from the 1958 album ‘In the night’. This track has turned me inside out and I have had it on repeat all week. I have listened to it at the height of day - there’s something even more haunting about listening to it at this time, like it’s heralding something epic, at the handover from day to evening - and also, of course, in the night. Not sure which one is my favourite time yet, all give the song a different flavour and shift in perspective. During the early parts I was alone then later in amongst other people, giving it a soundtrack quality to my week, jazz lenses. This track is haunting, enveloping and full of audacious brilliance. It balances perfectly between the soulful, controlled but vocally agile power of Staton, and the edgy, stripped back sounds of Shearing on piano and the accompanying quintet. Beautiful with plenty of bite, there is a poetry here that is so perfect its almost maddening. It only takes a few seconds to be pulled into heart of the narrative and transported into a noir style setting, two minutes and two seconds of dark, rich heaven. If you have the luxury of mood lighting and someone’s hand to take, then reach out, take a turn around the floor and let the music do the leading.