Karen Lane – Beautiful Love (2009)

Karen Lane - Beautiful Love (2009)
Artist: Karen Lane
Album: Beautiful Love
Genre: Vocal Jazz
Origin: Australia
Released: 2009
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Tracklist:
Softly As In The Morning Sunrise
Angel Eyes
Feeling Good
Beautiful Love
Meditation
Day In Day Out
We’ll Be Together Again
Midnight Sun
More
Mood Indigo
Outta This World
I Thought About You

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Appearing on the Jazzizit label’s newly founded digital arm this new album from vocalist Karen Lane is a classy affair executed to the highest musical and technical standards.

Like Jazzizit founder Trudy Kerr Lane also hails from Australia, Perth to be precise, and has eventually found her way to London following a spell in Sydney. Like Kerr she has a fine voice with a considerable talent for jazz phrasing and is an excellent interpreter of a song. She is also an accomplished songwriter and arranger. “Beautiful Love” is her fourth album following “Once In a Lifetime” (2002), the bossa inspired “Taste” (2004) and “I Can’t Help It” (2006) a duo recording with guitarist Paul Malsom.

For her latest venture Lane explores the Great American Songbook in the company of a stellar supporting cast consisting of Tom Cawley (piano), Andy Hamill (bass), Nic France (drums), Robin Fincker (saxophones), Dace Colton (guitar) and Julian Ferraretto (violin). Lane’s arrangements are uncluttered but imaginative and allow the musicians plenty of room for interpretation. The ensemble offer an impressively broad range of styles in their explorations of these classic songs and breathe new life into even the most familiar of material.

An intriguing take on “Softly As in A Morning Sunrise” opens the album, sung by Lane with considerable feeling and making imaginative use of Ferraretto’s violin. Hamill’s firm, melodic bass playing features in a brief solo. Indeed the bassist is excellent throughout the album, no more so than on the following “Angel Eyes” where he shadows Lane’s smoky, bluesy vocal in another innovative, slowed down arrangement. France’s deft, understated drumming and Cawley’s lazily bluesy piano solo are also worthy of note.

“Feeling Good” is also given a seductive, bluesy feeling with Fincker’s smoky, deceptively powerful sax joining Lane at at the heart of the arrangement. The sensual title track features Cawley in full lyrical flow on a stand out solo with Ferraretto’s violin adding additional colour to the piece.
Lane’s love of bossa is not forgotten with a splendidly slinky version of “Meditation” with Fincker ably filling the Stan Getz role.

“Day In Day Out” is playful and surprisingly funky driven by Hamill’s infectious bass undertow. Cawley takes flight mid tune with a rollicking solo. By contrast “We’ll Be Together Again” is suitably yearning and subtly bluesy. Ferraretto’s violin takes the solo honours soaring wistfully above Hamill’s bass growl and France’s delicate brush work.

“Midnight Sun” is a delicate ballad that demonstrates to perfection Lane’s abilities as a vocalist and interpreter. Cawley’s work on the track shows his considerable skills as an accompanist.

The brief but charming “More” is delivered as a bossa with a crystalline solo from Cawley, subtle guitar and violin colourations and a gently lilting rhythm.
Lane’s way with a blues shines out throughout the album, none more so than on a gorgeous “Mood Indigo” with Fincker’s sax again prominent in the mix.

“Outta This World” is given a surprisingly groove oriented delivery with Ferraretto’s violin being given plenty of room to sail and soar.

Finally comes a stately, blues inflected “I Thought About You”. At six minutes plus and taken at a leisurely pace there is plenty of opportunity for both singer and musicians to express themselves. Cawley is superb again here both as soloist and accompanist.

Lane’s assured vocal performance and imaginative arrangements ensure that this a well above average album despite the familiarity of the material. The empathic support she receives from her colleagues helps immeasurably, the accompaniment is sympathetic, the soloing cogent and pithy. The mix of styles and approaches ensures that the listener’s attention is consistently engaged.

This is as accomplished a vocal offering as I’ve heard all year.
by Ian Mann