Iain MacKenzie ‘Blow Your Horn’ (ChinChin) 3/5

iain-macKenzieSinger Iain MacKenzie has an impressive educational background, having studied at the Leeds College of Music and at the Guildhall School in London. Subsequent to this he has become an in-demand vocalist in television and film as well as with various big bands. This multi-faceted CV portfolio has clearly influenced his approach to music which is eclectic to say the least. The classic black and white photos, courtesy of renowned jazz photographer David Sinclair, hint at 1950s Rat Pack terrain and the voice is a combination of Mel Tormé in particular with a singer such as Jon Hendricks another possible influence. The music works best in the reworking of the US songbook classic, ‘Close your eyes’, which here receives a strong beefed up Latin percussive interpretation with punching brass, and the wordless ad libs round off a memorable treatment. A more club oriented tune, ‘Mambossa Hit’, is more commercial in orientation and a pop-Latin crossover aimed at the charts with something of a Matt Bianco feel from the mid-1980s. Almost all the songs are band originals, co-written by the singer, but one departure is the cover of Duran Duran’s film theme to the James Bond film, ‘A view to a kill’. The dramatic brass and percussion intro then tails off into a downbeat jazz meets house number. Stylistically, MacKenzie seems to go off kilter part way through with more pop-oriented songs such as ‘I spy on you’ and the pop-soul of ‘Let’s get lucky’. There is even an attempt at dance electro meets 1930s swing on ‘All Aboard, though this does come across as something of a pastiche. The title track in contrast which has a jazz undercurrent in the piano vamp and bass line with some fine horn arrangements. Iain MacKenzie may best served sticking to the jazz idiom with a strong Latin flavour since he is rather good at that, and this enables him to combine more classic sounds with a modern club land update. It is a pity the instrumentalists are not more clearly identified since they are generally excellent and an integral part of the sound.

Tim Stenhouse