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Tanya Wills Quartet: It’s Time

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Tanya Wills Quartet: It's Time

The agility with which Tanya Wills can – and does – sing is absolutely astounding. This is almost immediately in evidence as after she opens It’s Time with a swinging, feisty version of “All Shook Up”, displaying her marvellous mezzo, she soars in a manner that is almost unimaginable immediately thereafter on “Lazy Afternoon”, a song in which she also swoops down low beneath the trills of Bill Bridges’ beautifully plucked guitar accompaniment. After that song there’s absolutely no stopping her as she launches into “Chicken Mamas” and things take off.

The recording is a very special one, featuring beautifully crafted arrangements of beguiling variety and sensuousness, in every lovingly crafted phrase of every song. Moreover Miss Wills seems to enjoy a very special empathy with her guitarist, Mr Bridges and whenever they exchange choruses and soli both shine brightly. Miss Wills’ chosen material, with one or two notable exceptions, judiciously focuses on some lesser-known gems associated with ladies who fronted celebrated big bands. Listening to the way in which Miss Wills seductively bends the notes in “Cry Me a River”, and how she sculpts the long, sustained invention of “When Sunny Gets Blue”, it’s clear that there’s not a single semi-quaver that hasn’t been fastidiously considered.

Featuring not only brilliant work by Mr Bridges, It’s Time also highlights the special skills of pianist Jordan Klapman and contrabassist Ron Johnston who, together with Mr Bridges, are both attuned to Miss Wills’ vision and artistry. This is a glossy recording with many solid virtues both from the vocalist and the other musicians who seem in step with each other at all times. The repertoire – from “Honeysuckle Rose” to “If I Were a Bell”, “Nice Work if you can Get It” and more – is also a perfect fit for the strengths of Miss Wills. It’s clear also that Miss Wills is capable of a flawless performance no matter what the chart because she also works her subtle re-inventions of phrasing and articulation into the material right down to the surprise ending. As a result she produces something joyful and to die for as well.

Track list – 1: All Shook Up; 2: Lazy Afternoon; 3: Chicken Mamas; 4: Cry Me a River; 5: Jambalaya; 6: When Sunny Gets Blue; 7: If I Were a Bell; 8: Honeysuckle Rose; 9: Rain on the Roof; 10: Nice Work If You Can Get It; 11: Down in the River to Pray/Down by the Riverside; 12: If You Love Me (Really Love Me); 13: In the Ghetto

Personnel – Tanya Wills: vocals; Bill Bridges: guitar; Jordan Klapman: piano; Ron Johnston: contrabass – with Mylah Wills: vocals (on hidden track)

Released – 2018
Label – Independent
Runtime – 57:51

Based in Canada, Raul da Gama is a Canadian poet, musician and accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically. Raul studied music at Trinity College of Music, London and has read the classics, lived and worked in three continents and believes that there is a common thread running through every culture on earth. It is this unifying aspect of humanity that occupies his thoughts each day as he continues to write poetry and critique music. His last book was The Unfinished Score: The Complete Works of Charles Mingus, a book that relocated the life and works of the great American composer and bassist, Charles Mingus, to the landscape of poetry. He is currently at work on a poem of some length.

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