Peter Appleyard – Sophisticated Ladies – Linus Entertainment 270151, 46:15 ****:
(Peter Appleyard – vibes; John Sherwood – piano; Reg Schwager – guitar; Neil Swainson – bass; Terry Clarke – drums; Vocalists: Emile-Claire Barlow; Elizabeth Shepherd; Jill Barber; Jackie Richardson; Sophie Milman; Molly Johnson; Carol Welsman; Barbra Lica; Carol McCartney; Diana Panton)
Vibist Peter Appleyard is the dean of Canadian jazz players. At 84, he has seen many of his contemporaries either retire, or go to the great jazz jam session in the sky. He continues to perform on the Canadian summer jazz festival circuit and in fact, he and the Sophisticated Ladies participated in the TD Toronto Jazz Festival this past June to critical acclaim. For those who did not attend this performance, and while this is not a live recording of the concert, it does show that Appleyard and his ladies can still deliver the goods.
Using tunes from the Great American Songbook of Porter, Ellington, Arlen, and Carmichael among others, and with interesting arrangements by Rick Wilkins, the ladies romp through the session with panache and vitality. For whatever reason, there has been a plethora of Canadian female jazz singers in recent years, and even with this group some other very familiar names are missing such as Ranee Lee, Melissa Stylianou, Nikki Yanofsky and most notably Diana Krall. However those present acquit themselves remarkably well.
The challenge among this group is to find those singers who have the more interesting and unusual voices and there are four and perhaps five who fit that category. Relatively speaking the grand dame of this coterie is Jackie Richardson and with her husky full voice gives a terrific bluesy reading to “Georgia On My Mind,” with the band rocking out in support. Sophie Milman is a relative newcomer to Canada via Israel and Russia and her cool take on Tadd Dameron’s “If You Could See Me Now” is quite wonderful. Molly Johnson knows her way around a lyric and with “Sophisticated Lady” tells the story as Ellington intended. Carol Welsman is not only a first rate singer but also a fine pianist and on Cole Porter’s “Night And Day “she demonstrates the full range of her talent. Finally Jill Barber’s version of “Love For Sale” has an interesting slyness that fits in with the strong support from both pianist John Sherwood and guitarist Reg Schwager.
If this happens to be Peter Appleyard’s final recording it is certainly one with which he can be justifiably proud.
TrackList: After You’ve Gone; It’s Only A Paper Moon; Love For Sale; Georgia On My Mind; If You Could See Me Now; Sophisticated Lady; Night And Day; Satin Doll; Mood Indigo; Smile.
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