CD Review: Frank Holder / Shane Hill – Interpretations

Frank Holder/Shane Hill – Interpretations
(ShaneHill.co.uk FS001. CD Review by Peter Vacher)

Fast heading towards his 89th year, vocalist and Latin-American jazz percussionist Frank Holder shows little sign of slowing down. This one-time Dankworth Seven sideman has forged a wide-ranging career, crossing over from jazz to cabaret and back again, always offering a kind of engaging enthusiasm allied to a relaxed way with a lyric. Teamed here in this welcome new release with the fast-fingered guitarist Shane Hill with help from bass (Val Mannix) and drums (Noel Joyce), Holder pays tribute to a variety of song-writers, old and new, taking a classic like Blue Moon into crooner country before his embarks on one of his trademark scat routines, then giving George Michael’s Careless Whisper a swinging interpretation, with Peter King’s alto added for extra bite, thus undermining my assumption that modern pop vehicles have no actual merit.

And that’s the album’s over-riding theme, Holder/Hill’s Interpretations ranging far and wide as they cover songs by everyone from Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse and Katie Melua to Jobim, Gershwin and Arlen with some originals added along the way. Rather touchingly, Blues for John Dankworth by Hill, evokes Frank’s arrival in the UK from Guyana way back in 1944 and his journeys with JD, the lyrics like a heart-felt letter of thanks to the great man. Frank’s warm-sounding vocal approach and ease with a lyric shine through everything here, with Hill’s clever guitar figures, complex or understated, working like the best of embellishments. Highlight for me is the presence of flugelhornist Dick Pearce weaving in and out of Holder’s narrative on Stevie Wonder’s You Are The Sunshine of My Life. Nice work, Frank and Shane.

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4 replies »

  1. Creating a unique sound and style is the aspiration of every jazz musician. Frank Holder has long since established himself on the British jazz scene as one who has succeeded in doing so. His voice is a perfect balance between the rich mature tones of a consummate performer mixed with an almost juvenile exuberance. His interpretation matches perfectly with the original arrangements of his co-artist and gifted guitarist Shane Hill. Many would balk at trying to create an album featuring the work of such names as Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart, Amy Winehouse, Jobim and Stevie Wonder but the understanding and collaboration that these two have developed works a treat. There is plenty of original material here too from both. This is an album every true jazz fan will enjoy.

  2. Great Album. Highly recommend it. Frank is a true legend of jazz, a unique performer who spans the generations. Shane performs to his usual very high standards. Get to see Frank and Shane perform live if you can !

  3. This is a great album, beautifully produced in a way that takes you straight to the music, very old-school and modern at the same time. It's a reminder that jazz carries not only material from the past but a whole approach to performing and recording that should not be lost… it's also a reminder of how production sounds best when it is invisible and proves just how little is needed when you have the right essential ingredients, ie, commanding, intimate vocals, stunning and tasteful accompaniment, all pitched and mixed with the right feeling. I would be happy to produce an album that sounds half as good as this one.

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