Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Paul Bentley - Come Sunday


Having written about Kurt Elling and spent some time revisiting his jazz vocals I also returned to another jazz vocalist who I've listened to frequently - surprising [not because of quality] but because of the range of music I have and the fact I wouldn't normally place 'traditional' jazz vocal at the top of my listening list. But it clearly is.

Paul's from Liverpool and I first heard of him when seeing his performance at one of the superb free lunchtime concerts run by the Manchester Jazz Festival in St Anne's Square. This was in the summer of 2006. He's a big guy with big vocals and it was simply an excellent set. The kind of lively and genuine and infectious love-of-the-music set that makes an immediate impact.

I bought his solo album 'Come Sunday' and it has an unplugged presentation that centres Benley's vocals where they'd naturally push to in a crowd - and that crowd being silenced just to authenticate the metaphor. With piano by Les Chisnell and the occasional clarinet of Iain Dixon, standards like 'Let's Fall in Love', 'My Foolish Heart' and 'The Shadow of Your Smile' allow Bentley's crisp vocals to complement the classic songwriting. There's a sweet version of James Taylor's 'You Can Close Your Eyes' and I'd like to hear more of Bentley covering a wider range [having this standards collection under his belt].

I have for the past 3/4 years searched for further recordings, for example an expected big band album, but with no luck. Looking today, his personal website seems to have disappeared. From other site information he appears to gig regularly in the Merseyside and Manchester areas - weddings and corporate entertainment; club sessions - but not the recording production I had hoped for. I did today discover and send for the jazz band Crispy Duc cd on which he takes lead vocal. I also discovered Paul has played or still plays with The Paul Bentley Five and The Paul Bentley Swing Band. But not much more in terms of information. Perhaps this is the reality of the jobbing artist whose talent could in my estimation stand comfortably with someone like Elling but life and listening have their labyrinthine routes.

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