Sarah Weller Band ‘Stormy’ (Daisy Dog) 3/5

sarah-weller-bandJazz vocalese tends to be situated in the classic standard repertoire and therefore it is welcome to hear someone who focuses on the lesser known material, but giving them a contemporary Latin flavour with a definite nod towards the dancefloor. Sarah Weller has clearly listened to a good deal of soul jazz and Brazilian-influenced songs and the result is a well-balanced album of classic and contemporary covers. Flora Purim immortalised ‘Stormy’ on Duke Pearson’s 1970s Blue Note album and here the wordless scatting is retained and a similar breezy atmosphere is conjured up. Arguably stronger still is the rendition of Bobby Hutcherson’s ‘Little B’s poem’ with a bubbling bass line and electric guitar accompaniment out of the Pat Metheny school. Brazilian composer Ivan Lins is often and here ‘Love dance’ is a cover of a song that George Benson made famous on his ‘Give me the night’ album. A pared down take on Stanley Turrentine’s ‘Sugar’ in the guitar only intro suddenly gives way to an altogether funkier interpretation that recalls the lovely version from New York vocalese group Rare Silk back in 1983. Clubland is represented by an extended remix of ‘Stormy’ from DJ Nicola Conte that includes a repeated bass intro and a Mr Mundy mix of ‘Black Spirits’. Only the gentle sounding ‘Meditation’ hints at bossa nova territory and English lyrics courtesy of Normal Gimbel have been added to the Jobim and Mendonca original. For a left-field number, the rustic folk guitar (à la John Fahey) on ‘A slow hot wind’ works extremely well and there is a lovely Hammond organ solo from Ross Stanley who features on three songs and sounds reminiscent of mid-1960s Larry Young in approach. Sarah Weller has recorded a commendable debut and, in the already saturated female jazz vocalist category, made her initial mark.

Tim Stenhouse