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Recital Room, 14th February 2010

“Tapestry Unravelled” is a show (and soon to be released album) by Christine Tobin and Liam Noble based on Carol King’s Tapestry. I’ve never knowingly heard Tapestry, although it’s hard to get to my age and have any sort of interest in popular music without becoming familiar with a lot of the original songs (which include “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”, “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” and “It’s Too Late”). Based on the pieces I did know, this sounded like a fairly straight performance of the material, rather than a radical reworking. Christine Tobin did scat-singing solos on a couple of pieces, where the original presumably had an instrumental solo, but stuck closely to the melody elsewhere. Similarly, Liam Noble concentrated on providing tasteful accompaniments rather than going in for the radical recasting of the material which distinguished last year’s marvellous Brubeck album. His solos avoided flash display concentrating instead on a careful selection of exactly the right – if often unexpected – notes. He got the chance to stretch out a bit more on an instrumental version of “Smackwater Jack”, and on a version of a Milton Nascimento song which started out with him playing the strings of the piano directly before it transformed itself into a song by Steve Swallow. I thought he was excellent.

Towards the end of the concert, Christine Tobin announced that they were going to be returning for a repeat performance at this year’s Glasgow Jazz Festival. I’d recommend their show thoroughly, as long as you understand that what you’re going to get is an evening of good songs excellently sung and played rather than one which explores the further shores of jazz improvisation. But what I really want to hear is a gig by Liam Noble as leader. Any chance of someone putting one on?

The previous night’s Edinburgh gig was reviewed in the Herald.

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