Ian Shaw

Soho Stories

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Welshman Ian Shaw's voice has been called "buttery" in the jazz press, but a more apt culinary comparison might be ice cream -- his singing style is smooth, cool, and creamy, equally laid-back and assured at any tempo, always investing the appropriate emotion in the song but never sounding like he's under stress. On his second album for the venerable Milestone label (his first was a duo effort with pianist Cedar Walton), he swings and trots through brilliant up-tempo renditions of standards like "Comes Love" and "Dearly Beloved" and delivers a wonderful version of "A Little Piece of Heaven" with just bass and drum accompaniment. He's no less compelling on ballads -- his performances of "I Wished on the Moon" and "Be Sure I'll Let You Know" (the latter co-written by Shaw and Walton) are sensitive but self-assured. And the two surprise inclusions are both unqualified successes: a straightforward rendition of the Janis Ian composition "Ruby" and a slow, aching arrangement of Tom Waits' "Rainbow Sleeves." Excellent.

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