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.