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Matthew Ruddick

Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Sunday, 18 December 2016 05:13

Barb Jungr and John McDaniel - Come Together

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Barb Jungr teams up with pianist and arranger John McDaniel to interpret Beatles classics.

Come Together is a collaboration between the jazz and cabaret chanteuse, Barb Jungr, and the American award-winning pianist and arranger, John McDaniel, who is known for his work on Broadway and as bandleader on the Rosie O’Donnell Show.

The arrangements are inevitably less jazzy than Jungr’s recent collaboration with Laurence Hobgood, and more theatrical in style, but by performing as a duo, and keeping the arrangements fairly simple and stripped back, they have made an album that will appeal to fans of both genres, and music lovers in general.

The album opens with a false start, McDaniel’s piano introduction to Let It Be leading straight into Got To Get You Into My Life. It’s a joyful arrangement, and Jungr’s delivery will warm the coldest of hearts. The duo are also careful to mix things up, interspersing The Beatles’ biggest hits with lesser known tunes, such as Things We Said Today and Mother Nature’s Son.

Eleanor Rigby works well, despite its familiarity. Here they opt to slow the tune down, and there’s a huskiness to Jungr’s delivery that brings an additional layer of sadness to the lyrics. McDaniel’s playing here is also lovely, his lines adding fresh elements to the melody, too. For No One is another highlight, demonstrating beauty in its simplicity.

Perhaps inevitably, there are some occasional missteps. The segue from And I Love Her straight into All My Loving is seamless, but felt too close to cabaret for my liking. Likewise Getting Better felt a bit too Broadway for me, but was partly rescued by the link into Here, There And Everywhere, which was a delight.

Whilst the quality of the songwriting remains unparalleled in popular music, there is arguably less for Jungr to work with from a lyrical perspective than with Dylan and Cohen; likewise, we have all heard countless cover versions of many of these songs, either by other artists or in hotel bars, which makes it difficult to put a fresh spin on the melodies.

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Nevertheless, there is a spirit to these performances that is hard to deny; the two musicians clearly enjoy working together, making the title of the album entirely appropriate. Recommended.

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