Album review

Paul Clarvis, Liam Noble, Cathy Jordan – ‘Freight Train’

Paul Clarvis, Liam Noble, Cathy Jordan Freight Train

(Village Life. 1411222. Album review by Jon Turney)

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Here’s an unexpected trio producing delightful results. Singer Cathy Jordan is a leading light on the Irish folk scene and came together with Paul Clarvis and Liam Noble for a lockdown project commissioned by Jazz West Midlands in mid-2020. The remotely recorded meeting, still accessible on youtube, was so successful they came together again in the studio a year ago to add to the playlist. This CD and download album combines the two sessions.

As the piano, drums and voice combo suggests these are fairly unadorned treatments of familiar songs, mostly selected by percussionist Clarvis to reference career moments he recalls with affection. The winner here is Mose Allison, with four songs, but there is an eclectic list of single compositions ranging over blues, folk, musicals and Ellingtonia.

Noble contributes characteristically exploratory piano, ranging from spare but oblique obligato to rhapsodic intros as the mood takes him, with some electronic additions on the studio tracks. Clarvis, as ever, generates impetus with minimal effort, even at impossibly slow tempos.

Together they furnish warm support for the vocals, challengingly exposed in this setting. Jordan delivers the songs straight, in a light but beautifully accurate voice that handles jazz rhythm as if she has always leant that way. There are hints of a more famous jazz Jordan here and there, without attempting to emulate Sheila’s improvisational prowess, and something of the McGarrigle sisters in her style too, I fancy.

It’s a beguiling 50 minutes or so. Which songs work best will depend on personal taste and mood. For me Nick Lowe’s splendidly minatory The Beast in Me is a highlight, while even these performers cannot save the irredeemably twee Truly Scrumptious.

Overall, though, it sounds as if these three have a thoroughly good time playing together: and so does the listener.

The trio are touring these songs, opening at Birmingham Jazz on 6 Jan, with an album launch at the Vortex the following night.

Jon Turney writes about jazz, and other things, from Bristol. / Twitter: @jonwturney

LINK: Freight Train is available on Bandcamp

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