Truthfully, I wasn't certain what an entire evening with Welsh vocalist/pianist on the basis of two numbers he performed at this year's Jazz Lives, even though said numbers were very compelling...points for a Joni Mitchell tune and one of my favourites "A Case of You". How can you not love a man who records an entire album of Joni Mitchell tunes?
Although he does come highly recommended as Jazz Vocalist of the the Year at the 2007 BBC Jazz Awards in Britain and by Larry Green (and my boss knows his stuff)...
I had listened to a couple of tracks from his latest album "Lifejacket" and was not completely won over, but knowing some people are a much better live experience than recorded I gave it a go. My doubts were quickly dispelled when he took the stage and won over the audience with his great rapport and quick wit. He commented about the Christmasy feel with 2 large decorated trees on either side and quoted "It's coming on Christmas and they're cutting down trees ("River" for those non Joni fans) . He weaved that tune together with "A Case of You" asking if there was anyone in the audience who had ever loved someone inappropriate :)
Imagine an audience chiming in to "Makin Whopee" and Lou Reed's "Take a Walk on the Wild Side"...do da doo doo doo doo... There were great anecdotes about not getting cast in "Guys and Dolls" but doing "Jerry Springer- the musical".
At one point he provided delightful impersonations of Sarah Vaughn and Johnny Matthis as well as performing some of his own wonderful compositions "42" (and what a great age it is/was) and "I Want to Live in Paris".....ah, don't we all!
The biggest highlights for me were a heartwrenching verions of Shirley Horn's "Here's to Life" and a song by our own Stephen Fearing I don't hear nearly enough "You Have the Most Beguiling Eyes"...one of the best yearning tunes I've ever heard.
Mr. Shaw pours all his heart and soul into his performance,(his stagecraft is superb) and that's what connects to the audience. He graciously thanked Ross and Denise Porter of Jazz FM, Jaymz Bee, Brad Barker and everyone at the station.
I will be there to hear him when he returns!
P.S. My friend Richard who always seems ahead of the curve musically recommended someone to me Greg Laswell and I have his tune "I Like How the Day Sounds" going through my brain..check it out...