alison dewar

Vortex Review

'Natural' is the perfect title for this album from South African singer Alison Dewar: although her material is mostly standards ('You Must Believe in Spring', 'How About You') and jazz classics (Randy Weston's 'Hi-Fly'), she delivers it all with an ease and assurance, an entirely unaffected sincerity, that simply cry out for the adjective.

Appropriately enough, she begins the set with a touching visit to the Cole classic 'Nature Boy', but it is her unruffled but subtly emotional delivery of the archetypal Jobim composition 'Desafinado' that truly defines her art, showcasing her crystal-clear diction, the conversational intimacy of her approach and the unhurried, attractive languor of her overall sound. She can swing, lightly but strongly - her 'How About You' is discreetly muscular - but her chief strength is in the swooningly lovely delivery of the nostalgia-for-Paris piece 'Once Upon a Summertime' or the concluding classic 'Too Young to Go Steady', both perfect examples of the art that conceals art.

The arrangements (mostly by pianist Graham Harvey, although 'The Best is Yet to Come' is an effective duo with arranger/bassist Dave Chamberlain) are lean and tasty, and are played with restrained elegance by the core trio (completed by drummer Matt Skelton), embellished from time to time by tenorist Derek Nash or flautist Andy Panayi; all in all, a striking, immediately likeable album.

Chris Parker, Vortex, London, UK (March 2007)