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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Album Review: Joan Watson-Jones - Choices

Joan Watson-Jones (vocal); Frank Wilkins (piano); Dave Zox (bass); Alvin Terry (drums).

To describe Joan Watson-Jones as late blooming is perhaps an under statement - her mother was dancing and boxing at the Parisian nightspot Moulin Rouge as far back as 1924! So, whilst I don't know JWJ's age she's certainly no ingénue. Which of course is totally irrelevant and I'm ashamed for even mentioning it! Much more important is that she can sing - and how!

Choices is her fourth album and the first one to contain predominately original songs.


Apart from her mother's ability to pre-date The Ali Shuffle and throw a mean left hook, her dad was a founding doctor in the Upper Manhattan Medical Group - perhaps he'd been on the receiving end of one of his wife's jabs - the institution that inspired Strayhorn's U.M.M.G.

However, that's enough of the facetiousness. Getting down to the nitty -gritty, the songs are full of meaningful lyrics about items that matter. Choices (her mother); My Child's Dreams (her father); Let Me Go (the graceful departure of a loved on); Talking With Martin (civil rights); The First Time We Met (an enduring romance); It's Been a Long Time Comin' (a new-found love).

Other tracks are: I Ain't Just a Pretty Face; A Glass of Wine and Time Passes.

The two non-originals are Topsy 2 and Here's to Life. The latter is a natural and fits seamlessly in with the originals making it the perfect final track. Topsy 2 I'm not so sure about. It's a great track grooving along nicely and setting off her jazz chops but, somehow, it doesn't quite quite gel with the overall mood. I look forward to hearing Joan on an album where it does slot in.

The supporting trio are more than just that - the singer gives them plenty of space and they don't drop the baton approaching the home straight.

I look forward to hearing more from this lady.
Lance

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