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Harriet Coleman

Lucky To Be Me !

A sunny and respected character on the South Easy jazz scene here in England, Harriet Coleman is one of those artists best heard live. However by choosing unusual songs and working with a fine team of players she has created a collection that sound equally assured and fresh. Assured because many years of singing live have left her with ace phrasing and a warm presence ; fresh because these numbers have not been done to death by others yet still occupy the jazz/lounge territory the album targets.

I bought it because I was at a show featuring Ms Coleman and spotted Steve Waterman’s name on the record. I have seen this chap play a few times and here and there and like, say, Jim Mullen, he doesn’t do rubbish !  The same goes for J Holland but moreover Protect The Beat sax man on this set Derek Nash, of course – the only man to really understand the importance of the late Eddie Harris to adventurous and rhythmic jazz. The other participants here are John Pearce on piano, Andrew Cleyndert on double bass and drummer Steve Brown.

Perhaps Harriet wouldn’t be offended by me referring to Rosemary Clooney ? because the latter’s lively and tuneful delivery may possibly have been an influence on the young Coleman ? or Jo Stafford may have been, for that matter…..opener ‘My Heart Stood Still’ has some trippy percussion breaks and cool piano figures …it’s a Hart / Rodgers creation of course but not a warhorse. The Gilbert / Jobim  ‘Dindi’ has a dreamy ambience and bossa nova delivery ; A new New Orleans feel pervades the Lieber / Stoller number ‘I’m Feeling Too Good Today Blues’ which has a kittenish touch worthy of Eartha Kitt but of course Harriet’s vocal timbre is the other end of the spectrum. The muted trumpet is a cool touch. The strutting ‘I Love Being Here With You’ could have been a straight Peggy Lee copy, but isn’t – Coleman is being Coleman;  The trumpet is liquid, emphatic and the sax break just about throaty enough…but doesn’t this song cry out for Hammond organ ??

The knowing Sammy Cahn lyric ‘Please Be Kind’ is in good hands, here ; my favourite though on this set is undoubtedly ‘Call Me Darling’ – Coleman sounds absolutely at home and natural here, the key for the vocal is spot on  ( as it is for all the selections, I would add) and the sax offsets perfectly judged. The rhythm section is a bit laidback here but the piano sparkles, yet again.   The bass and drums dynamic however makes ‘I Won’t Dance’ a beautiful reading of the song.  Title cut ‘ Lucky To Be Me’ is another joy, fine singing and pacing..would have made a great flute feature.

An upbeat, swinging collection that breaks no musical boundaries but satisfies the ears and shows everyone off well – this lady makes songs come to life and makes it look easy

Pete Sargeant

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