(CD Review by Mark Ramsden)
I’ve always loved hearing Gordon Mark Webber‘s strong, rich voice storm a London club gig. Half David Clayton-Thomas, half Lou Rawls, his voice is unique but the project reminded me of Boz Scaggs’s recent standards sessions – great songs recorded by a soul singer who has ripened into maturity.
This fit, stylish fifty-something guy has been gigging since he was 14, travelling widely and entertaining the Royal Family and many A List celebs along the way. Expecting some serious raunch, I was surprised to hear a different side of him on a sophisticated set which includes contemporary ballads like Sting’s Fragile, (containing a soulful violin solo from Chinara Sharshenova, good throughout), a faster Sultans of Swing, a slower Rikki Don’t Lose that Number, Taste of Honey given an All Blues revamp and many other fresh ideas which trigger a smile.
Gordon’s CD arrived a few days after I’d spent an afternoon obsessively trying out every version of Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear on Spotify, which Sting may think was synchronicity whereas I’m going for telepathy. Gordon’s a down to earth geezer so I’d better quickly say that this fresh swing version easily ranks alongside Randy Newman’s original and Alan Price’s hit, especially when Dominic Ashworth cuts loose with a gorgeous guitar solo, one of several he contributes.
The musicians are of the highest calibre, particularly the arrangers Geoff Gascoyne who has worked miracles for Jamie Cullum, Dominic Ashworth and Derek Nash. Anything recorded by Derek will sound clear and vibrant, the beautiful percussion sound in particular, although Nic France might justifiably get the hump if I don’t mention that he drums sensitively throughout.
The one original is a wistful, romantic bossa which sounds like it deals with a serious relationship for its writer. In this noisy, often tasteless world of ours, it takes courage to wear your heart on your sleeve and to provide an audience with warm mellow delight.
Stand out track for me is Sting’s haunting Fragile, but they will all repay repeated listenings.
The CD is available from www.gordonmarkwebber.com