Liane Carroll - Ballads ★★★★ Recommended

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Liane Carroll (v, p), plus various personnel including James McMillan (t, vib), Mark Edwards (p), Mark Jaimes (g), Roger Carey (el b), Mark Fletcher (d) and City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Rec. date not stated

While you’re grateful for one, possibly two, heart-stopping moments on your average CD, with a Liane Carroll album you soon lose count. Teaming up again with producer and trumpet player James McMillan and featuring settings that range from the starkly beautiful (‘The Two Lonely People’) to the über deluxe (‘You’ve Changed’, arranged by Chris Walden), Ballads sees Liane nail 11 terrific songs in magisterial fashion.

In addition to much loved classics such as Noël Coward’s ‘Mad About The Boy’ and the Goffin/King evergreen ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’, there are a couple of genuine surprises: Sophie Bancroft’s exquisite ‘Calgary Bay’ and Todd Rundgren’s ‘Pretending To Care’, the latter featuring the wonderfully burnished tones of Julian Siegel’s bass clarinet. Heard back to back, they form an indescribably moving centrepiece. Widely recorded by instrumentalists (Cannonball Adderley, McCoy Tyner) and vocalists (Dinah Washington, Frank Sinatra) alike, ‘Goodbye’ has always been an exceptional song, but in Liane’s hands it charts untold depths of emotion. This is one of the few indispensable vocal jazz albums of recent years.


– Peter Quinn