Winner of the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Media, 2019


Trudy Kerr

Deja Vu: Songs from My Past


by Ian Mann

September 21, 2008


A typically classy offering from Kerr. A lovingly crafted selection of songs beautifully sung and flawlessly played

This is a typically classy set from the Australian born Kerr, now established as one of the UK’‘s most accomplished jazz vocalists. An otherwise diverse twelve song collection is united by a common theme; each tune has a strong link with Kerr’s past-hence the title.

Kerr’s husband Geoff Gascoyne handles bass and arranging duties and is joined in a quality rhythm section by swinging drummer Steve Brown. Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren (recently heard in a totally different setting on the ACT album “Mare Nostrum”) is the album’s chief instrumental soloist and his resourceful, colourful playing is a big factor in the album’s success.

Some titles feature the Juno String Quartet playing Gascoyne’s arrangements. The strings are judiciously and tastefully utilised and add appropriate shade and colour to the instrumental palette.

Kerr opens with Arlen and Mercer’s “Out Of This World” which showcases her clear, well articulated vocals. But she also exhibits a real talent for genuine jazz phrasing, something the swinging accompaniment positively encourages. Lundgren solos at length here and his sparkling playing is a delight.

The title track is a soul ballad co-written by the great Isaac Hayes that Kerr used to sing in her first band at the age of seventeen. It benefits from Gascoyne’s low key string arrangement and articulate bass playing.

Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness Of You” is tackled in a playful up-tempo style. Lundgren shines again, Brown’s nimble drumming is full of delightful details and everyone sounds as if they’re having a ball.

Jobim’s mildly salacious “Two Kites” was introduced to Kerr by Norma Winstone and throws a Brazilian flavour into an already diverse mix.

The strings feature on Irving Berlin’s “They Say It’s Wonderful” but the real highlight is the pairing of Lundgren’s lyrical piano and Kerr’s warm, conversational vocal.

Kerr added her own lyrics to Dave Holland’s “Dream Of the Elders”. Appropriately Gascoyne’s resonant bass is at the heart of the instrumental arrangement. The words were inspired by a period Kerr spent living in Vanuatu and complement Holland’s beautiful melody perfectly.

The playful mood returns as Kerr duets with Bob Dorough on Dorough’s tune “Up Jumped A Bird”. Kerr’s honeyed tones and Dorough’s fragile voice dovetail on tongue twisting hipster lyrics.

Gascoyne appropriates the bass line from the old Police hit “Walkin’ On The Moon” and grafts it on to the standard Destination Moon”. It’s an inspired piece of thievery and the whole track is great fun with Kerr supplying topical additional lyrics.

Michel Legrand’s “The Summer Knows” features Kerr’s sensuous vocal alongside the string quartet in an effective piece of chamber jazz.

The string quartet provide the introduction to Andre Previn’s “You’re Gonna Hear From Me” before the orthodox jazz instrumental takes over for a relaxed and swinging take on the tune. Gascoyne’s dexterous bass solo is a particular highlight.

Witchcraft/You Fascinate Me So” continues the mood before Kerr concludes the album duetting with Lundgren on a beautiful version of “You Go To My Head”.

There is nothing earth shattering about “Deja Vu” but it is a lovingly crafted selection of songs beautifully sung and flawlessly played. An above average offering in an often overcrowded field.

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