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Anjali Perin Quartet

First Reflection


by Ian Mann

February 16, 2007


Perin shows much promise as a writer and arranger and after this excellent beginning it will be interesting to see how her career develops.

This is the debut recording by young vocalist Anjali Perin and on the evidence of the music presented here she has a very promising future.

Perin has been mentored by the more experienced singers Anita Wardell and Trudy Kerr. Indeed the album is released on Kerr’s Jazzizit label and the album maintains the high technical standards we have come to expect from the company. Once again the indefatigable Derek Nash deserves credit for his work both as engineer and as Perin’s co-producer.

A highly talented young band surrounds Perin. Pianist Liam Noble is the most experienced and is probably the best known. Young multi instrumentalist Jim Hart is also making quite a name for himself. He appears in the drum chair here but he also has a growing reputation as an outstanding vibes player. The quartet is completed by the excellent young bassist Amy Baldwin.

Perin covers a number of well-known standards as well as tackling four of her own compositions. There are also two examples of “vocalese” where she has added lyrics to existing instrumentals. The first is based on Miles Davis’ trumpet solo on the standard “Autumn Leaves” from Cannonball Adderley’s Blue Note album “Somethin’ Else”. The other is based on Eddie Gomez’s bass solo on “You Must Believe In Spring” from a recording made with pianist Bill Evans. Perin does justice to these sources with her thoughtful and effective lyrics and high-class vocal delivery.

Her own compositions also stand up well including the wistful “A Light Inside” with its bossa nova rhythms and the yearning “Still Calling” which closes the album. The latter features just Perin accompanying herself on piano and she also proves herself to be a competent instrumentalist. However for me the pick of the originals are the atmospheric, slow burning ballad “If You Wait” and the modal “Dare To Dream” which features some superb playing from the instrumentalists as it slowly unfolds.

The standards are largely familiar but are enlivened by the performance of both the singer and her accompanists. As a singer Perin is assured and confident with excellent enunciation and genuine jazz phrasing. She is a convincing interpreter of a song and is also an effective scat improviser. It all adds up to a very classy package and the empathic support she receives from her colleagues only goes to emphasise her qualities.

Perin is prepared to let her musicians stretch out thereby making this a real group effort. Noble is superb throughout, consistently inventive as a soloist and sensitive as an accompanist. On this album he shows the lyrical side of his playing, whereas on his own records he is more spiky and percussive. Nash has recorded him superbly and his playing here is a constant delight.

Hart and Baldwin are an excellent rhythm section, combining swing with sensitivity. Baldwin has a warm rounded tone and solos fluently when required and the imaginative Hart is right on the money always conjuring up the right sounds and textures from his kit.

The band swing their way through the opening “Never Will I Marry” and “Lullaby Of Birdland” whereas the arrangement of “Speak Low” is spare and subtly funky. “If I Should Lose You”, a duet between Perin and Noble is one of the album’s highlights, with Noble’s piano cradling Perin’s voice in a beautiful display of musical interaction.

“My Romance” features Perin’s scat singing and Baldwin’s sonorous bass.

Taken as a whole this is very strong debut by a very accomplished singer fronting a highly talented quartet. Perin also shows much promise as a writer and arranger and after this excellent beginning it will be interesting to see how her career develops.

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