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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Friday, 07 July 2023 16:05

Zoe Francis - Somewhere In The Night

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Zoe Francis delivers a cool take on some of Blue Note classics.

Somewhere In The Night is the new album by Zoe Francis, a singer from the ‘cool school’. As with her previous album, Blue Town (2019), the album features the organ trio of Ross Stanley on Hammond organ and guitarist Jim Mullen.

The album is comprised entirely of standards and pays homage to the classic Blue Note albums of guitarist Grant Green and organist Larry Young.

The opener, Somewhere In The Night, was inspired by the version on Grant Green’s excellent Street of Dreams (1964) album. Zoe composed some additional lyrics to Larry Young’s organ intro, which work well.

Newley’s Who Can I Turn To is another highlight, with Ross Turner taking the lead and Mullen in a more supportive role. Zoe’s phrasing is excellent, as always, and allow the listener to appreciate to fully appreciate the lyrics.

When The Sun Comes Out features a delightful solo by Jim Mullen, and sees Stanley and Mullen trade some bluesy licks. The mournful Maybe September is excellent, with Stanley’s Hammond giving the tune a delightful late-night feel. Skylark is also superb, with Zoe’s playful vocal stealing the show.

Sweet and Lovely has a warmer vibe, and features a great solo by Stanley, while a sprightly take on Ellington’s In A Sentimental Mood rounds out the album.

I enjoyed the album, but found it a bit too one-paced for my taste. The classic Blue Note organ albums tended to feature the odd bluesy workout, which broke up the ballads. Likewise, the absence of drums meant that the album lacked a certain dynamic, in my view. Still, there’s plenty to enjoy here. Zoe Francis has matured as a vocalist, and her control and enunciation is admirable, while Turner and Mullen provide first-class support.

 

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