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Poet In New York

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Album Review

When Georgie Fame's name is mentioned, many people immediately think of his 1960s pop hits or his years as Van Morrison's keyboardist. But listeners should not forget that Fame is also a swinging jazz singer, and Poet in New York is an appealing demonstration of what he can do in an acoustic hard bop setting. Fame makes no concessions to pop, rock, or R&B tastes on this 2000 release, which is about as straight-ahead as it gets. Drawing on such influences as Mark Murphy, Jon Hendricks, and Bob Dorough, the British vocalist gets heavily into vocalise and reminds us how expressive an interpreter of lyrics he can be. Spontaneity prevails on material that ranges from Neal Hefti's "Girl Talk" and Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" to Rodgers & Hart's "Do It the Hard Way." Fame (who is joined by tenor saxman Bob Malach, pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Louis Hayes) acknowledges some of the masters of vocalise, interpreting Hendricks' lyrics to Horace Silver's "Doodlin'" and King Pleasure's lyrics to Lester Young's "Jumpin' with Symphony Sid." The improviser also does some writing of his own, providing lyrics for no less than three Tadd Dameron pieces: "On a Misty Night," "Accentuate the Bass," and "That's the Way It Goes." Produced by Ben Sidran, Poet in New York is enthusiastically recommended to anyone who likes hearing Fame as a pure, unapologetic jazz vocalist.


Born: June 26, 1943 in Leigh, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Georgie Fame's swinging, surprisingly credible blend of jazz and American R&B earned him a substantial following in his native U.K., where he scored three number one singles during the '60s. Fame played piano and organ in addition to singing, and was influenced by the likes of Mose Allison, Booker T. & the MG's, and Louis Jordan. Early in his career, he also peppered his repertoire with Jamaican ska and bluebeat tunes, helping to popularize that genre in England; during his later years, he...
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