"Gifted..... angelic voiced jazz singer" - Time Out London
London-based singer Daniela Clynes launches her own label with this sometimes soulful, often ecstatic, always highly musical and imaginative collection of songs, recorded in London and New York during 2001.
The amount of discs by young British singers that drop through my letterbox grows by the day (luckily I'm moving house in the next few weeks) and sadly the majority of them trot out rote arrangements of the same handful of standards. Even a casual glance at Clynes's set-list suggested that I was in for something more promising - "Kineret"? Not heard of that before. "The Midnight Sun" by Lionel Hampton and Johnny Mercer? Haven't come across that for years. "In The Wee Small Hours" and "Lover Come Back To Me"?
Fair enough because it's in the context of such interesting and unusual material, and it's great to see Clynes's generous nod towards the contemporary British jazz scene with tunes by Iain Ballamy and Django Bates, and by Kenny Wheeler.
Of course none of the above would matter if she couldn't sing, but Clynes's ability to fuse a resourceful technique with her own distinctive sense of 'this is me' is clear from the opening track. "Kineret" - as it turns out - is an ancient Jewish tune that Clynes has decked out with a sonorous brass arrangement and a driving rhythmic groove that, because of the tune's modal tendencies, sounds surprisingly Coltrane-like. Jonanthan Gee picks up on similar vibes with a solo that evokes McCoy Tyner, and throughout Clynes soars elegantly above the ensemble, intoning the rising contours of the tune with operatic panache. "Gentle Persuasion" is the theme by Bates and Ballamy to which Clynes has added her own lyric, and the track shows a more playful and wry side to her musical persona than the barnstormer opening. Clynes's lyric is a charming piece of nonsense verse, reminiscent of Edward Lear, about a bird and a child who fly off into the sky together. She decorates the original line with deftly handled bird-like trills and puckish decorative turns that get underpinned by skittish figurations and spiky Latin percussion lines from the ensemble.
Of the standard material, "Lover Come Back To Me" is especially impressive, with Clynes incorporating adroitly borrowed Mark Murphyisms and a hearty belly-laugh into the flow. "Child Of Man" is intelligent pop, while the moody brass of Clark Gayton's arrangement for "The Midnight Sun" places Clynes in a knowingly cod-1930s setting. However, Clynes leaves her most profound statement to last. "Farewell" is a touching ballad to lost love, and Clynes's mournful yet optimistic lyric is given added piquancy by a strangely contorted chromatic melodic line.
I reckon that ballad performances couldn't come much more honest than this, and this valedictory track ends an extraordinarily assured debut with an emotional blast.
(Jazz Review mag)
Musician magazine June 2004
The phenomenon of the enormous explosion of really talented singers (mostly female) in the past few years who operate in the area of jazz, or at least music which is pretty close to it, has been remarked on many times. The competition is enormous, not least for space in the pages of Musician, and this is by way of saying sorry to the following who I have not been able to accomodate with a full-on review when the album first appeared.
Daniela Clynes "Gentle Persuasion"
A really classy production with Jonathan Gee, Sam Burgess and Clark Tracey and some overdubbed brass & percussion recorded in New York. Daniela moves outside the usual repertiore into Hebrew nuanced music as well as Latin tinged tracks and a Stevie Smith poem set to music by Kenny Wheeler.
'LIVE AT THE PIZZA ON THE PARK'
This collection of specially arranged songs for the hugely listenable voice of Daniela Clynes serves as an excellent introduction to her eclectic, yet highly intelligent fusing of Broadway, Jazz and Pop.
From the beginning, Clyne's love of words is apparent. Never too theatrical, just when you think she's as English as tea and cakes Clynes trips the light mid - Atlantic.
'The Nearness of You' hints at early Streisand and with her beautifully controlled head voice Clynes teases the cadences, improving and holding back the reigns to make way for a stunning re-harmonised workout of the written melody from her accompanist Liam Noble.
The duo format continues with 'Child Of Man' a folky playground setting of Noa's lyrics. Refreshingly sans vibrato Clynes reading of these moving sentiments indeed illustrates "a song as beautiful and pure as mothers milk".
After a slightly sinister yet-highly inventive rewording of an Abba favourite "When I Kissed The Teacher" here dark and balladic, Arlen and Mercer's 'I Had Myself A True Love' shows the torchy underside to Clyne's programme. Although sung in mezzo terrain here are shades of Barbara Cook, Lena Horne, Judy Garland. Hear her wail on the domestic confessional that is the middle section of this complex song. No shrinking violet, Clynes belts the 'done her wrong', bending and blue noting where appropriate. Daniela Clynes closes this collection with Sondheim's jaded (yet not totally defeated) 'There Won't Be Trumpets'. Just enough drama, then the swing kicks in. A fitting dénoument (Peter Churchill leads this quintet) to a wonderfully inventive bag of goodies. This CD introduction to Daniela Clynes marks her as a singer of clarity and soul, refusing to rally the standards, rather than to flag down the unexpected corners of the popular song, yet retaining a jazz - cabaret sensibility.