IAN SHAW / “Ian Shaw Mixtape”

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United Kingdom jazz vocalist Ian Shaw was born in Wales on June 2, 1962. Winner of the BBC Jazz Award in 2004 and 2007, Shaw is widely considered the best male jazz vocalist in Britain.

When considering vocalists, the only other Welsh singer I am consciously aware of is Tom Jones but they could not be more different. Whereas Tom Jones was exuberantly melodramatic, Ian Shaw is seriously dramatic in his delivery.

In addition to a wonderfully flexible voice, Shaw’s sense of timing is superb. Part of Shaw’s expert delivery is no doubt to his early years as a comedian, a profession in which timing is everything.

Here is a mixtape of Shaw interpreting standards and contemporary pop material, including two songs by Joni Mitchell from a Mitchell tribute album, Drawn To All Things. Most of the songs are taken from his second album, 1992’s Ghostsongs: Ian Shaw Live At Ronnie Scott’s.

Mr. Shaw has a recent album of original material, Lifejacket, which received critical acclaim, however, my focus is on the great job Ian Shaw does at illuminating lyrics and music written by others. He has become a vocalist of deep maturity, giving deep meaning to songs which focus on the conundrums and complexities of life experiences. Indeed, some well-known songs achieve new depths as his voice swells and swoops.

What I like is that Shaw is very, very expressive but not overly sentimental. His work is philosophically positive without being Pollyannaish, and realistic without being pessimistic. Although in popular parlance “adult” has become a euphemism for soft, and sometimes hardcore, pornography, in Ian Shaw case, adult means precisely that: grown up and responsible for self and others.
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Moreover, he has been steadfast in his allegiance to a jazz-based style of singing regardless of what material he chooses. Shaw is a trained musician who earned a 1983 Bachelor of Music in piano and music theory from Kings College, London. Shaw has performed in musicals, including 2002’s hit Jerry Springer – The Opera, and was also featured in the 2005 movie Pierrepoint.

When accompanying himself as a singing pianist, or touring with the Brodsky String Quartet, or working with his own jazz band, Ian Shaw remains committed to a serious approach to singing. He is probably one of the best singers many of us have never heard.

—Kalamu ya Salaam

Ian Shaw Mixtape Playlist

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From Ghostsongs
01 "Me, Myself And I”
02 “Some Other Time – People Will Say We’re In Love”
03 “Lover Man”
04 “Calling You”
05 “Somewhere”
06 “Goodbye Porkpie Hat”
07 “Blame It On My Youth"

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08 “Alfie”In A New York Minute

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From Draw To All Things – Songs Of Joni Mitchell
09 “Chelsea Morning”
10 “River”

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11 “Peace”A World Still Turning

This entry was posted on Monday, July 13th, 2009 at 1:45 am and is filed under Cover. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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