Sector7 – The EP
(SaySo Records SEHSO02CD. CD Review by Chris Parker)
Close-harmony jazz singing, whether (apparently) straightforwardly exuberant (Andrews Sisters-style) or self-consciously hip (à la Manhattan Transfer) is a relatively rare treat these days, so Sector7 are a breath of fresh air.
This five-track EP sets the vocals of Sarah Ellen Hughes, Emma Smith, Kwabena Adjepong and Shakka Philip against a tidy, discreet jazz trio (pianist George Moore, bassist Tim Thornton, drummer Andy Chapman), and stylistically embraces everything from touching traditional material (‘She’s Like the Swallow’), a standard (Gershwin’s ‘But Not for Me’) and a couple of contemporary songs (Silje Nergaard’s ‘Be Still My Heart’, Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superwoman’) to Chick Corea’s tricksy classic ‘Spain’.
The harmonies/arrangements range from rich and lush to relatively adventurous, but it is arguably the quality of the solo voices that really grabs the listener, the various singers agile enough to negotiate all the twists and turns of Corea’s enduringly popular tune, but warm and affecting where required (the Nergaard and – flawlessly sung – one of the pop Mozart Wonder’s loveliest tunes from his richest 1970s vein).
The vocal forces on display here are impressive, and the manner in which they are deployed, whether to emphasise their contrasts or the ease with which they can be blended, equally so. A great calling card for an outfit that Ian Shaw has described as ‘possibly the most exciting thing to happen to the London jazz vocal scene’.
Available from sarahellenhughes.co.uk