Standard return to form for Melanie
Melanie O'Reilly: Ceol Ceantair/District Music (Mistletoe Music)
With John R Burr/Frank Martin/Fintan O'Neill (piano), Fred Randolph/Antoine Simoni (bass), Kendrick Freeman/Roman Piot (drums), Ian Dogole/Celso Alberti (percussion).
Always a versatile and imaginative singer, Melanie O'Reilly has grown and matured during her years in California.
On this new CD, she sings in English, Irish and French, adding wordless variations and backing vocals.
Six of the nine tracks are originals in the Celtic jazz style. The most exciting of these are I Lose My Breath and I Am, both co-written with Frank Martin and taken from their Joyce and Jazz Suite.
Melanie began her career singing standards, and she includes three here: Les Feuilles Mortes/Autumn Leaves; a light-hearted treatment of Mean to Me, and the atmospheric Caravan.
Kevin Fitzsimmons: Show me the Way (Jazz Wurx)
With Leon Greening (piano), Matt Fishwick (drums) Dominic Howles (bass), Steve Fishwick (trumpet, Alex Garnett (tenor sax), Gareth Lockrane (flute) and Derek Nash (alto and tenor saxes).
Fitzsimmons is a young British singer/songwriter of Irish descent, apparently influenced by Mark Murphy and Kurt Elling, to judge by this album. The warmth of his approach enhances his own songs, from the humorous There Must Be Something Out There to the lonesome Multicoloured Misery. Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life is something of a test, and he passes it with honours.
Today's Sunday Jazz Brunch at Christmas -- the Shelbourne Hotel (noon to 3pm) -- features Emilie Conway (vocals), Michael Behan (guitar), Andrew Csibi (bass) and Kevin Brady (drums). Then there's a choice between Zrazy in the Odessa Club (4pm to 6pm) and the Louis Stewart/Jim Doherty duo in JJ Smyth's (4.30pm to 7.30pm).
Conway can be heard again next Thursday at 9.30pm in the Westin Hotel, Westmoreland Street.