Christine Tobin: The Yell of the Gazelle

COMPOSERS: Christine Tobin
WORKS: The Yell of the Gazelle
PERFORMER: Christine Tobin (v), Huw Warren (p, acc), Steve Watts (b), Roy Dodds (d) & guests; Django Bates (tenor horn), Steve Buckley (as, b-cl), John Parricelli, Don Paterson, Phil Robson (g)
The material on this, Dublin-born singer Christine Tobin’s second album under her own name, comes from largely the same sources drawn on by her debut: Irish traditional music, jazz standards, modern folk, plus the odd original and a tune by Antonio Carlos Jobim. There are definite signs, though, of increased maturity and sophistication, both in the poise with which Tobin approaches familiar fare – her daringly accelerated version of the usually slow-burning ‘Angel Eyes’ is a particular delight – and in the intelligent adventurousness of her own writing. Like one of her chief inspirations, Joni Mitchell (whose collaboration with Charles Mingus, ‘A Chair in the Sky’, is featured here), Tobin has a talent both for writing complex but cogent melodies and supplying appropriate words and resettings for existing jazz tunes – here exemplified by a broodingly intense version of John Abercrombie’s ‘Night’, particularly well suited to her smooth, smoky voice. Her reworking, with Huw Warren, of Leonard Cohen’s ‘You Know Who I Am’, transformed from a slow waltz to a slightly sinister, dark shuffle embellished with bursts of freeish jazz, is also highly effective, and the album as a whole more than fulfils Tobin’s considerable promise. CP