Winner of the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Media, 2019


Sue McCreeth

Just For Luxury

by Ian Mann

June 28, 2006


Sassy, sensual, reflective and rueful - her voice purrs and whispers.

The latest release from singer Sue McCreeth makes a refreshing change. It is good to hear a female vocalist who is not aiming for the Radio 2 and Michael Parkinson market with an album of glossy over-familiar standards. Instead McCreeth takes musical risks and brings a genuine jazz sensibility to her singing. Her album contains an eclectic choice of material performed with inspired collaborators who are the cream of Britain’s jazz crop. It is a proper jazz album and a genuine musical statement rather than a shallow attempt to copy current musical fashions.

McCreeth operates in a quartet setting fronting a piano/bass/drums line-up. The pianist on all tracks is the criminally underrated John Horler, surely one of Britain’s most accomplished players. His playing is a major factor in the album’s success and he also co-wrote one number “Babe’s Blue” with McCreeth. The majority of the bass duties are undertaken by the dependable Andrew Cleyndert who is also the regular bassist for the great Stan Tracey. Dave Green replaces Cleyndert on two pieces. Mark Fletcher, Matt Home and Tristan Mailliot share the drummer’s role. Fletcher appears on six tracks, Home and Mailliot on two each.

The material includes a number of McCreeth originals plus adaptations of two modern jazz classics Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” and Wayne Shorter’s “Speak No Evil”. These adaptations are fine examples of the art of “vocalese” or adding voice and lyrics to established instrumental pieces. The great American vocalist Dianne Reeves wrote the words to “Maiden Voyage” with “Vanessa Rubin providing the lyrics for “Speak No Evil”.

There are also a couple of standards but one suspects that these have been included just because the band love them rather than for overtly commercial reasons. In any event the album closer “You Don’t Know What Love Is” has been radically rearranged whilst the more straightforward “Moonglow” showcases the sublime pianistic skills of Horler and the singing, swinging bass of Green.

Horler even sounds good on electric piano making it sound perfectly natural on McCreeth’s “Black Swan” and “Ettu Enna”. Their collaboration “Babe’s Blue” lives up to it’s name, a bouncy, swinging enjoyable blues.

McCreeth’s other songs range from the sensual “She Want Him” and “The Dancer” to the reflective “Trains On Lines” and the ethereal “Black Swan”. It is a pity that the lyrics are not reproduced on the CD insert as this would enhance one’s enjoyment of the material.

McCreeth’s singing covers an impressive range of styles and emotions from the sassy and sensual, to the reflective and rueful. Her voice purrs and whispers. She really gets inside a song and allows it to breathe and is helped greatly in this process by the imaginative and adventurous instrumental arrangements. Quality vocal jazz.

blog comments powered by Disqus