Versatile O'Reilly strikes all the right notes on new album
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, launched at her recent Dublin concert, 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. The Irish-language songs are delightful too, especially the up-tempo An Cat.
Melanie began her career singing standards and she includes three of them here: Les Feuilles Mortes/Autumn Leaves, sung softly but with a suggestion of power; a light-hearted treatment of Mean to Me; and the tremendously atmospheric Caravan.
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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 for any singer, and he passes it with honours.