Monday, 27 August 2018

Van Morrison & Joey Defrancesco - You're Driving Me Crazy (2018)


   

Released April 2018

This is another jazz album from Van Morrison, following on from 2017's "Versatile". It is a collaboration with trumpeter Joey Defrancesco. There are seven jazz cover versions and eight from Morrison's own catalogue.

"Miss Otis Regrets" has some excellent trumpet on it, but Morrison's voice goes strangely deep in places, so much so that I thought it was someone else singing. It is a good opener though, and "Hold It Right There" is one of those upbeat, swinging "hard bop" jazz tunes, with lots of stand up bass and tenor saxophone. Morrison seems to nonchalantly cope with all sets of jazz tunes these days and it makes for a relaxing late night listen. Incidentally, his daughter, Shana Morrison, appears on this one. "All Saints Day" from "Hymns To The Silence" is a jaunty, lively delight and "The Way Young Lovers Do" from "Astral Weeks" is given a bassy, organ-enhanced soft swing makeover and becomes even more jazzy than the original was, with a "scat" vocal from Morrison. Both of these songs have suited their new jazzy approach down to the ground.

"The Things I Used To Do" has some addictive bass and an organ that swirls around all over it like  fairground Wurlitzer. The standard of musicianship on the album really is top quality, as indeed is the sound. It really is a pleasure to listen to. "Travelin' Light" has that deep, bluesy, bassy underpin to its slow, smoky late night rhythm. It has some seriously impressive saxophone and burbling Hammond organ on it. "Close Enough For Jazz" makes its third appearance on a Van Morrison album, and it is no surprise to find that this one is its most authentic jazz version. "Goldfish Bowl" is given a saxophone-drenched, extended new coat of paint and Morrison's bluesy griping about the pitfalls of fame are equally as convincing. "Evening Shadows" from "Down The Road" has an intoxicating saxophone riff and some lively organ doodling.

"Magic Time" features that strange deep voice improvisation again, that sort of sounds like bath water gurgling down the spout. Other than that, it sounds great! Back to the cover versions now with the light, airy, crooner-type song "You're Driving Me Crazy", which has Van laughing and chuckling at one point. "Everyday I Have the Blues" is actually more upbeat than you would imagine from the title, and more jazzy than bluesy, funnily enough. "Have I Told You Lately?" is given a toe-tapping, saxophone and bass sheen and Shana joins her Dad again on vocals. It is nothing like the original, and there is some excellent jazz guitar on it too. I really like it.

"Sticks and Stones" is a fast -paced number, with a almost rock 'n' roll beat number in places, one of the liveliest on the album. The pace slows for the closer, Morrison's delicious instrumental "Celtic Swing", from "Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart". This has been a most enjoyable album, functioning particularly well late in the evening.

B

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