Jane Irving sings ‘Don’t Quit Now’

Jane Irving was born in Sydney, Australia, and has called New York City home for the last eleven years. She spent her early life studying classical piano and in her late teens, fell madly in love with jazz. In the late 90’s, Jane got her start as a solo pianist/vocalist in Sydney bars, but her first opportunity to lead a band just as a vocalist showed her a new freedom: “It was an incredible feeling and a defining moment when I realized I wanted to focus on singing”. Jane spent the next twenty years singing with her own groups at venues and festivals throughout Australia and in 2007 released her 1st album Beams.

The album opens with the title track, which is a slow paced introduction to the band and singer. The musical accompaniment is very good with a nice relaxed piano style and subtle support from bass and drums. What stands out is the vocal delivery: the tone and phrasing are very good and there is a nice rise and fall in the delivery. Then we move to ‘Spring Song’ and we get to hear a more lively recitation with some good scatting from Jane but everything still sounds intimate, like the band is playing for a small select audience.

‘Let The Flower Grow’ shows how well Jane portrays emotion in her singing. There are some great bass lines from Kevin Hailey and everything about this tune is beautifully understated and powerful for being so. ‘Love Dance’ is a wonderfully paced number with an effective stilted, angular quality about it. There is very good use of tonal variation and timbre on this track that make it an engaging tune that doesn’t let the listener settle, trying to guess what is coming next.

My choice for standout out track on the album goes to ‘A Night In Tunisia’, a multi-faceted delivery that works on more than one level. The vocals are top notch, the piano playing from Josh Richman is spot on and equally matched by Kevin Hailey and Kayvon Gordon on bass and drums respectively.

‘Someone’s Been Sending Me Flowers’ has a music hall delivery about it. The lyrics are fun and works so well because of the way Jane puts the song across – a track to put a smile on your face. ‘Alice in Wonderland’ has a quirky wonderment about it in a tune that has some really nice variation in style and delivery, with a very good piano and bass section. ‘Blossom’ is a tribute to singer and pianist Blossom Dearie and all I can say is that I think it would have been very much appreciated.

Now on to the final three tracks that make up Don’t Quit Now starting with ‘Underdog’ with its classic jazz era vocal styling: a slow tempo, excellent diction and storytelling with subtle piano accompaniment. ‘Snowbound’ is a gently swinging number with a good bass line and Jane Irving showing that she is an accomplished pianist as well as vocalist. The final number is ‘Lover’, which opens with an up-beat drum pattern before the voice comes in with the piano. This is a good tune on which to close out the album, lively and well delivered.

This album is an invitation to an interactive place where songs are delivered with taste and control and have the immediacy and freshness of a band playing in a room. These songs are sophisticated and strong, all with a beautiful story. Jane Irving is a new voice to me but on the strength of what I have heard on Don’t Quit Now she will become a favourite jazz vocalist who knows how to draw on the female jazz vocal tradition and make it her own.

Don’t Quit Now will be available from Bandcamp as a digital download from Friday, 31st March.

Musicians: Jane Irving – vocals, & piano on tracks 6 & 10; Josh Richman – piano, & arranger on tracks 4 & 7. Kevin Hailey – bass; Kayvon Gordon – drums.

Tracklist: 1. Baby Don’t You Quit Now. 2. Spring Song. 3. Let the Flower Grow. 4. Love Dance. 5. A Night in Tunisia. 6. Someone’s Been Sending Me Flowers. 7. Alice in Wonderland. 8 Blossom. 9. The Underdog. 10. Snowbound. 11. Lover.

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