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Sunday, 08 January 2023 00:00

When Winter Turns To Spring - Jo Harrop and Paul Edis

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Chamber jazz with a seasonal vibe.

When Winter Turns To Spring is a new album by pianist Paul Edis and singer Jo Harrop, which was released in December 2022 on Lateralize Records. The album has a seasonal feel to it, with many of the songs about autumn and winter, or the feeling of spring bringing new hope. “Most of the songs on this record seem to be about the circle of nature and the cycle of life reminding us that all is not lost,” Jo explained. “Winter is temporary, as is loss, and spring and love will come again.”

The two musicians are joined by a number of guest musicians, including guitarist Jamie McCredie, who plays on a few tunes and produces, Adam King (bass) and Peter Adam Hill (drums), who are the rhythm section on roughly half of the songs, Freddie Gavita on trumpet and Emma Rawic on flute, clarinet and soprano saxophone – to name but a few.

The album is effectively a chamber jazz album, rather than straight-ahead jazz, and pianist Paul Edis arranged a string section to accompany the musicians on a number of the tunes. I found that this worked well on a few on the songs, but sometimes made the album stray a little too far from jazz, towards easy-listening, for my taste.

Opener Short Story is fantastic, and has a vaguely Stacey Kent-like feel, with delicate vocals from Jo Harrop and a subtle arrangement, featuring beautiful piano from Paul Edis and a fine contribution from Emma Rawic, who plays soprano saxophone here.

Umbrellas In The Rain is a more stripped-back affair, with just piano, bass and drums, and has a gentle swing to it. It also features solos from both Paul Edis and Adam King.

A Perfect Winter’s Day was co-written by Paul and Kate Edis, and whilst it’s a lovely tune, it has a distinctive Christmas feel to it, which may limit its appeal to the winter season.

Winter Love Affair (One Day Soon), co-written by Paul and Jo, is simply gorgeous, and demonstrates Jo’s growing skill as a lyricist. As with Winter’s Day, this song also features a string section, and I felt it would have been better without, the melody strong and sweet enough to stand on its own. New Year, New You works better, I think, relying on a natural jazz swing, which gives the song a fairly timeless feel.

Watch an amazing live performance of Winter Love Affair here:

In The Bleak Midwinter is an instrumental, played by just Paul Edis on piano and Jamie McCredie on guitar, and lovely as it is, would have made more sense on the stand-alone Christmas EP, rather than this album.

The album closes with two excellent tunes – When Winter Turns To Spring, which is superb, and the delightful Spring Put The Swing In My Step, an original by Paul Edis which sounds just like one of the great standards – and features Freddie Gavita on trumpet, Emma Rawicz on tenor saxophone and Rory Ingam on trombone, as well as a solo by the excellent Jamie McCredie, who always impresses.

Overall, this is a lovely album, confirming Jo Harrop as one of the finest singers on the London jazz scene, and Paul as a rising star, both as a pianist and songwriter/arranger. I preferred the more stripped-back and more jazz-oriented arrangements, but it is melodic and lyrical throughout, and there’s plenty to enjoy. Three stars.


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