Sweet Surprise

COMPOSERS: Blossom Dearie/Jim Council,Cole Porter,Vernon Duke
LABELS: FMR Records
ALBUM TITLE: Trudy Kerr
PERFORMER: Trudy Kerr (v); Phil Peskett (p, kbds); Andy Hamill (elb, db); Mark Fletcher (d, perc); Dave O’Higgins (ts); Mark Johns (g)
CATALOGUE NO: UG CD04-0797

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Australian-born singer Trudy Kerr’s debut album certainly is a Sweet Surprise. Now resident in Britain, her antipodean bizazz has been leavened by a year of study on the postgraduate jazz course at London’s Guildhall School of Music, and the result is an album of a dozen superb performances of very varied material.

She seems able to handle any kind of song with conviction, even at the two extremes of jazz singing – the subtle, tender self-communing of Billie Holiday, or the earthy, declamatory style of soul or gospel singers such as Aretha Franklin.

Kerr includes a couple of well-known standards, Vernon Duke’s ‘Taking a Chance on Love’ and Cole Porter’s ‘All of You’, but the rest of the pieces are refreshingly unfamiliar. The title track is an unusual love song by Blossom Dearie and Jim Council, which Kerr delivers with sweet intimacy and urgency, breathing life into the tricky lyrics. Yet the very next piece, ‘I’ve Got to Be Me’, is a witty soul song given a raunchy, passionate treatment with all the vocal inflections of that tradition.

Kerr’s diction is excellent and cleverly varied to suit her material, and her trio are superlative accompanists, using acoustic instruments for the ballads and standards, but changing to electronics and digging in rhythmically for the soul pieces.

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