Time for another post, and out of all of the reviews still waiting to appear I've absolutely no idea why I chose this one. Perhaps I like the way I set the album up to fail in the first half?
Anyway, if you get nothing else from it, at least you'll find out what Evan Parker listens to when he's not playing 50 minute soprano sax solos without pausing for breath...
RIGMOR GUSTAFSSON & JACKY TERRASSON
Close To You
ACT (9703 2)
Close To You; Walk On By; Move Me No Mountain; So Amazing; I’ll Never Fall In Love Again; Much Too Much; Odds & Ends; Alfie; What The World Needs Now; Always Something There To Remind Me; Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head; I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself; World Of My Dreams.
Nils Landgren (tb); Jacky Terrasson (p/elp); Sean Smith (b); Eric Harland (d); Rigmor Gustafsson (voc).
Recorded July 2004.
A celebration of Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Dionne Warwick with jazz sensibilities may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but few could deny the importance of this triumvirate in the popular music explosion of the 1960s. I remember a conversation I once had with Evan Parker, who quite sincerely and without any prompting spoke of his admiration for their work. There have been a lot of memorable jazz interpretations of this music, but whether a vocalist should be dancing on such hallowed ground without bringing a markedly personal slant is a thorny question. Put simply, how can another vocalist hope to improve on perfection?
To succeed, something distinctly different is called for, and a jazz vocalist, with the scope to improvise and interpret should be well equipped to rise to the challenge. In enlisting pianist Jacky Terrasson’s trio, producer Nils Landgren certainly gave Gustafsson every advantage. Sadly it is only really on pieces such as ‘Much Too Much’ and ‘Move Me No Mountain’, where Terrasson switches to Rhodes, Smith and Harland lay down some tight and funky back beats and Landgren the soloist in unleashed, that anything unexpected happens.
Elsewhere, only the slightly schmaltzy ‘Odds And Ends’, with ensemble whistling and finger clicking, even attempts anything unusual. Gustafsson has a pleasingly husky voice, but her distinctly Scandinavian enunciation unintentionally makes her sound closer to Bjork than to Dionne Warwick. A more welcome distraction would have been for Terrasson to step out of the shadows with greater regularity to inject some much needed jazz substance, as opposed to style.
Three pieces from outside the Bacharach/David cannon are selected, the worst being Luther Vandross’ ‘So Amazing’, and none of the three are up to the standard of any of the 60s classics. If you already own the original Warwick versions and want to hear a different approach, I’d suggest you pick up the recent Blue Note Plays Bacharach compilation instead. Rather like another pianist playing Monk, Bacharach is best left untouched unless approached from a completely different angle. Gustafsson doesn’t seem to have that angle, but may nevertheless score a crossover hit.
(Jazz Review, January 2005)