COMPOSERS: Gwyneth Herbert
LABELS: Blue Note
PERFORMER: Gwyneth Herbert (vocals), Tom Cawley (piano), Sam Burgess (bass) etc
CATALOGUE NO: 503 2582
Given that jazz can accommodate everyone from free-jazz champion Evan Parker to the Dixieland sounds of Shep’s Banjo Boys, I won’t re-run the debate about Gwyneth Herbert’s jazz credentials.
What’s clear is that these original songs are imaginatively arranged, evocatively delivered and constructed with an almost aggressive literacy uncontainable by the world of the mainstream singer-songwriter, so no doubt the jazz market is a better place to look for an appropriately demanding audience.
Clearly Blue Note thinks so, which will very probably exacerbate the arguments as to whether hers is a new direction or simply the result of using a borrowed map. Until the dust settles, we should simply enjoy her songs for what they are: personal, witty, urbane, unpredictable and full of subtly poetic narrative that stands up on its own terms without recourse to genre conventions. Roger Thomas