Album review

Lauren Bush – ‘Dream Away’

Lauren Bush – Dream Away (out 15 October 2021)
(CD review by Mark McKergow)

London-based vocalist Lauren Bush’s second album Dream Away is her follow-up to 2016’s All My Treasures. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable collection with great performances throughout and a couple of nice surprises that turn a very good album into something special.

The core of the 10 tracks here are well-chosen standards arranged by pianist Liam Dunachie who offers finely judged support and springing soloing – his work on If This Isn’t Love leads into a neat scatting chorus from Bush which shows how she became a top 5 finalist in the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition.

The opening You Stepped Out Of A Dream rolls along underpinned by a rolling Conor Chaplin bass line and again shows the benefit of having a really good arranger on the team, shifting in feel and with enough chord substitutions to be interesting without getting in the way. Four of the tracks feature trumpeter Miguel Gorodi who gives no quarter in his lively attacking lines, the performances all gathering momentum towards a rousing climax.

Lauren Bush was born in Nainamo, Canada (on Vancouver Island, British Columbia). She keeps a family connection with the title track Dream Away written by her father (and professor of music at Vancouver Island University) Greg Bush with new lyrics by Jesse Cooper. This strolling ballad also features Gorodi, with some soaring high-noting from Bush in the play-out. In a similar pace Bush’s take on In A Mellow Tone coasts along with a swing with more scatting and trumpeting and some chances for neat drummer David Ingamells to briefly put his head over the parapet. You’re Everything has Bush tackling an extended written passage with Dunachie, executed with total precision in a most impressive fashion.

A very intriguing new song is Blackfriars, written by saxophonist Fliss Gorst with lyrics by Bush. For some reason Blackfriars Bridge has not thus far entered popular culture in the same way as Chelsea Bridge or Berkeley Square, but it now has the beginnings of immortality thanks to this reflective ballad of love and loss. The tune is beautifully effective and Gorst’s tenor saxophone solo is well judged. This lovely song could enter the canon of London-placed jazz and become a standard for those wishing to evoke the capital’s river in clubs around the world. The album has been co-produced by Ian Shaw, and his experience shows in the excellent recording.

The cherry on top of all this excellent cake and icing is Keep It To Yourself, a tune by London bassist Geoff Gascoyne with lyrics by Bob Dorough, one of the vanishingly small number of singers with a credit on a Miles Davis record (they collaborated on Blue Xmas in the early 1960s). Bush saw Dorough performing with Gascoyne at Pizza Express in 2017, on what was very likely the singer’s last trip to London (he died in 2018), when Dorough performed this set of lyrics. A conversation ensued, lyrics and music were passed over, and Bush has been featuring the song ever since. This is its first recording with the Dorough lyrics – a genuine little piece of jazz history. The song itself is a gorgeous swinger, sallying along with sass and bounce, trumpet interjections and a solo piano break from Liam Dunachie – outstanding in all respects. 

Dream Away is released on 15 October 2021, with a launch gig at Pizza Express on Tuesday 19 October 2021. Well worth getting hold of for anyone seeking some bright, classy, thoughtful and well-performed music to brighten up the autumn evenings.

Release date is 15 October 2021

LINK: Dream Away on Bandcamp

Lauren Bush website

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