Live to Love
Though it is vocalist Jacqui Dankworth’s name above the title, her fifth album heralds the convergence of three of Britain’s foremost jazz practitioners, none of whom have gained nearly the Stateside attention they deserve. First is Dankworth herself, of elite lineage, daughter of composer-reedman John Dankworth and vocalist Cleo Laine. Next is keyboardist-vocalist Charlie Wood who, though born in Memphis, has long been based in London and is Dankworth’s husband. Finally, there’s bassist Geoff Gascoyne, best known for his work with the jazz-flecked British supergroup Everything But the Girl and for his pivotal role in Jamie Cullum’s rise to stardom. In addition to playing on 13 of the 14 tracks, Gascoyne produced the album and wrote all but one of the arrangements.
Much like Dankworth’s previous release, It Happens Quietly, a tribute to her late father, Live to Love is gently, imaginatively wrought. Nine original compositions, all written or co-written by Dankworth, Gascoyne or Wood, are beautifully constructed, though generally stronger musically than lyrically. Most impressive are Dankworth and Gascoyne’s deceptively tranquil, haunted “All Is Quiet” (one of four tracks featuring the Brodsky Quartet) and Wood’s joyful list song “Simple As.” Typical of Dankworth’s programs, the covers are judiciously chosen, extending from a gossamer reading of Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free” and a tiptoeing take on Johnny Mercer’s “Something’s Gotta Give” to a scintillating treatment of Wayne Shorter’s “Palladium.”