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Jacqui Dankworth : It Happens Quietly

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Throughout this splendidly realized album, there’s no missing Jacqui Dankworth’s regal heritage. Her mother, Dame Cleo Laine, possesses one of the most distinctive voices in jazz and the echoes are unmistakable, particularly in Dankworth’s immaculate phrasing. But it is her father, Sir John Dankworth, whose influence is more strongly felt. All but one of the album’s 12 arrangements are his (with assistance from Ken Gibson). They are elegantly spare-there’s never any posturing or excess with Dankworth-yet richly colorful and imaginative, and ideally suited to his daughter’s warm, intimate style.

The instrumental accompaniment tracks were laid down just prior to Sir John’s death, at age 82, in February 2010, and on the album-opening “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” he can be heard counting in the musicians, bassist son Alec among them. The elder Dankworth also contributes a brief but vibrant sax solo to “The Man,” a sprightly, pick-up-the-pieces tale of romance gone wrong, composed by father and daughter. And he composed the title tune, a silky examination of blossoming love, with lyrics by Buddy Kaye.

That Jacqui’s vocals were added after her father’s passing surely adds to their tender poignancy. On most tracks, all ballad standards, she is surrounded by gently swirling strings. The exceptions are also the two loveliest selections: a hesitant and slightly bruised “Blame It on My Youth” featuring Dankworth alone with pianist Malcolm Edmonstone, and a closing “The Folks Who Live on the Hill,” with just guitarist Chris Allard, that oozes familial coziness.

Originally Published