Christine Tobin: Deep Song

COMPOSERS: Christine Tobin
LABELS: Babel
WORKS: Deep Song
PERFORMER: Christine Tobin (v), Phil Robson (g), Peter Herbert (db), Billy Hart (d), Mark Turner (ts)
CATALOGUE NO: BDV 2028
Having established herself as one of the most gifted and original singer/songwriters in today’s jazz world, Christine Tobin has, in this new album, turned her attention to standard songs of the last century. She already has the beginnings of an international reputation, and Deep Song also has an international aspect. It was recorded in New York City, with three distinguished American musicians as members of her quintet. From her regular group only the fine guitarist Phil Robson was involved in this project, as musician and co-producer with Tobin. There are eight performances of standards and two powerful Tobin originals.

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Tobin eases us in with her arrangement of the opening ballad, Rodgers and Hart’s ‘Little Girl Blue’, sliding and bending the lyrics expressively, and Turner, the rising young US sax star, creeping in with an exquisitely tender obbligato. The ballad ‘You Go to My Head’ is taken (surprisingly) at a medium tempo, with a jaunty, funky rhythm and excellent bass riffs – yet it works beautifully with the lyrics as eloquent as ever, and ‘How Deep is the Ocean’, arranged by Robson, is performed in 7/4 time, entailing a wonderful change of emphasis for the lyrics. But it’s Tobin’s two compositions which inspire perhaps the most highly focused performances. ‘Just Your Friend’ has a cunning lyric, and a structure and feeling which inspire superbly lyrical solos by Robson and Turner and a dynamic climax. Her ‘Ritual’ in 3/4, with its mysterious lyrics, is a tour de force, engendering a superlative Robson solo, an intensely moving wordless vocal with gloriously pure high notes and an elegiac finale.

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Joshua Redman is justly one of the most popular and successful living jazz musicians. He’s an extraordinary virtuoso, a supremely melodic improviser and a prolific composer of fine melodic themes which often employ dynamic asymmetrical rhythmic passages. His concept embraces virtually the entire spectrum of vernacular music, and he has the knack of choosing musicians who work well together. Beyond exemplifies all the above qualities and more. The ten very varied pieces are all written by Redman and they cover the emotional spectrum from tenderness and yearning (‘Twilight… and Beyond’), to passionate exultation (‘Leap of Faith’, with its jousting tenor saxes).