THIS IS SUCH a delightful, engaging and original release from a trio of top-class British musicians – the result, apparently, of a meeting and conversation between musical minds somewhere across the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean, between Haiti and Barbados!
Welsh-born singer Nia Lynn joins forces with British jazz’s foremost flautist Gareth Lockrane and in-demand pianist (and organist) Ross Stanley to provide a release of diverse interpretations of songs by leading writers, along with a clutch of originals from Lynn herself. Audience applause comes as something of a surprise, as both performance and production values are outstanding, belying the fact that this is a live concert recording (from The Forge, London). The grouping of voice, piano and flute may seem out of the ordinary in a contemporary jazz context, but the invention and musicality is of such a high standard that it compels the listener to hang on to every nuance and detail. Nia Lynn, a familiar name on the London jazz circuit, possesses a voice of remarkable dexterity and contrast – by turns, mellow and effusive – perfectly suited, with something of a folk influence, to the open instrumentation and creative ambience of flute and piano.
To begin, Ralph Towner’s Renewal finds Lynn’s wordless vocals perfectly matching the rhythm of Lockrane, Stanley providing simple chordal and solo momentum – a beautiful balance from all three. Tom Waits’ writing is frequently a source of choice for jazz vocalists, and here, in Soldier’s Things, Lynn excels in her expressive qualities against sumptuous piano accompaniment and hard, breathy flute. The magical luminosity of Lynn’s own Linger allows both Stanley and Lockrane the opportunity to elaborate, leading to Nikki Iles’ Upon the Hill, Nia Lynn joined vocally by national jazz treasure Norma Winstone to express its tangible, emotional yearning. Two Points of View finds Lynn sharing writing credits with Gwilym Simcock, Lockrane’s low, reflective flute utterly charming.
Once again, voice and flute pair up instrumentally to great effect in John Lee’s bluesy piano-led Harriet before launching into an exquisite reading of Newley & Bricusse’s Who Can I Turn To – such a lyrically spellbinding vocal from Nia Lynn. Lonely Ghosts, an original of Lynn’s, continues the feel-good, whilst Leonard Bernstein’s Some Other Time is sensitively delivered, illuminating the romantic lyrics of Betty Comden and Adolf Green – and a shining example of the delicate poise of and understanding between these three musicians (‘Bannau’ being the Welsh translation of ‘beacon’). Concluding the set, Nia Lynn’s nine-minute Precious is a breezy illustration of her impressive vocal dynamics, Lockrane and Stanley clearly enjoying its freedom.
An album of unexpected pleasure, ‘Points of View’ was launched at September 2013’s inaugural Whirlwind Festival, and a 2014 tour is planned. Promo video here.
Nia Lynn Voice nialynn.com
Gareth Lockrane Flute GarethLockrane.com
Ross Stanley Piano
Whirlwind Recordings – WR4645 (2013)