English vocalist Jacqueline Dankworth has teamed with her regular pianist James Pearson for a live performance of a well-selected program of standards, originals and traditional songs. Although For all We Know is her debut as a soloist, Dankworth is by no means a novice entertainer. She has appeared in London's West End theatres in musical productions, was featured with the BBC Orchestra in a program of newly arranged Gershwin material, stinted with her brother Alec Dankworth, (not John), as a jazz singer and is a seasoned traveler, having worked from Hawaii to Hong Kong with stops in Indonesia and New Zealand. For the last couple of years, she has had her own pop group, Field of Blues.
Dankworth brings her performing diversity to this album which rebuffs efforts to categorize her. Suffice it to say, she has perfect pitch, excellent diction and phrasing. Her voice is lighter than one usually hears in contemporary jazz singers (more like a folk singer of yore), and has an airy, ethereal feeling. She helps to dispel the notion that to be passionate and emotional, the singer must be loud, as she shapes each song with her own special charisma. Compare, for example, the relatively somber Nina Simone penned "Nobody's Fault but Mine" with the carefree "If I Were a Bell." The latter, by the way, highlights the piano of James Pearson, who also can be contemplative in a classical music sort of way. Celestial qualities are brought to the forefront coming through soft and clear on "So Many Stars." Risk taker that she is, Dankworth extracts words from Dyonysis Sophistes putting a contemporary twist to them in "Rose Girl. She has been down this artistic road before having put the poetry of A. E. Houseman in a jazz setting with the New Perspectives Ensemble.
Unfortunately, Dankworth's softness works against her as either bad mike placement, bad mixing or some other technical problem results in having Pearson's piano overwhelm Dankworth to the point where it is almost inaudible on some tracks. But this is a good album anyway.