Joe Stilgoe - New Songs For Old Souls - The Jazz Rag

Here's Joe's first for illustrious Linn, but his previous three are shown as being available on the label. It's another great listen - with ten out of the dozen being his own new songs. The Old Souls titling clearly relates to the facts that they have the quality of actual standards and the aura of nostalgia that pervades the dazzling stylings. For instance, at least three of them have the rollicking feel of Louis Prima about them. The whole album has that Stilgoe stamp, which I would term happiness personified.

The superlative constituents that make up a JS production need to be itemised. His appealing vocal sound has power or tenderness as required, and his diction is admirable. The latter virtue is essential in transmitting his cleverly-constructed lyrics. He is a skilled, swinging jazz piano soloist, as heard on several t racks here. A major ability is his arranging, which productively utilises groupings up to full big band, spiced with effective vocal choruses and soloists. His musician colleagues all being first-rate, the end-result is unremittingly entertaining.

The two non-Stilgoe compositions fit in very nicely. Brian Wilson's I Just Wasn't Made For These Times suits the overall mood, and compatibly combines Joe's singing with that of the unique Liane Carroll. A penultimate treat is a heartfelt Stilgoe rendition of the Lane/Lerner classic Too Late Now. Delivered with just his trio, it's a moving performance, containing perfect piano. In fact, perfection is the word for this collection.

The Jazz Rag
07 August 2015