Jazz Lovers Society Vol. 2
As with some of the classic jazz albums of the past, Fergus Hambleton has assembled a trio, featuring Rob McBride on bass, John Adams on drums and himself on guitar, clarinet, alto sax, piano as well as the vocals. A classic jazz trio lineup. There are other musicians along the way to augment the sound, but the trio is the core of Jazz Lovers Society Vol. 2. There was a Volume 1 recorded in 2000, but it was never officially released. Here, they present their unique arrangements to classic songs as well as a few that Hambleton wrote or co-wrote. The end result is a fantastic step into a jazz experience.
Hambleton and company refrain from turning this into a complete nostalgic trip. While the songs carry with them a certain weight and history, he has both arranged the songs and come up with contemporary arrangements of the classics. He does not tamper with the beauty of the original melody, but there is still a 2021 spin on the tracks. Listen to “The Moon Was Yellow” which has a South American feel, while “The Second Time Around” has a wonderfully lush arrangement over a sparse one. “A Certain Smile” features stunning bass, and its arrangement with the piano works just perfectly. In all cases, these are beautiful interpretations of classic songs. Hambleton and Vezi Tayyeb have done a fantastic job with the production, and as such it is flawless as well.
There are originals on the album as well and they fit here perfectly. “Talking To Myself”, “A Little Piece Of My Heart”, “Waltz For Maggie” (my favourite song of the collection) and “Parfaite Amusante” (which was co-written with Patricia Terbey) are all instant classics and sound fine with the more established songs. One is hard put to single them out as originals, as Hambleton has effortlessly written and arranged his own music to not only sound like the other songs but incorporates the essence of an era. The musicianship and performance is top notch but special attention should be drawn to Hambleton’s vocals. He is not known for this style of music (he is a member of The Satellites, and he has released several pop/rock solo albums) but he has clearly done his homework and loves this music. His phrasing is perfect and one can hear the emotion in his voice throughout the entire album (with the exception of the instrumental “The Drum Song”).
Jazz Lovers Society Vol. 2 is clearly a labour of love for Hambleton and, I suspect, the other musicians as well. He has chosen the songs wisely and succeeded in carving out his own arrangements. This is not the “Great American Songbook”, but rather an exploration into jazz. I would love it if there was a vinyl version of the album. It is an exciting excursion for Hambleton and one hopes for a Volume Three.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: FERGUS HAMBLETON – JAZZ LOVERS SOCIETY VOL. 2