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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Saturday, 13 November 2021 22:25

Fiona Ross - Red Flags And High Heels

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A sweet nod to rhythm and blues and all that is contemporary jazz.

Fiona Ross's Red Flags and High Heels is her fifth studio album, and she continues to deliver exceptional libretto across an emotional spectrum. 

I was happy to learn that Kim Cypher, one of the UK’s finest female saxophonists, was guesting this fine line-up. Kim's style and flavour certainly complement this album's theme. 

Other musicians include Gibbi Bettini (Guitar), Derek Daley (Bass), Marley Drummond (Drums), Loren Hignell (Saxophones), Dave Boa (Trumpet), Ashaine White (Saxophone on You Can Smile and Backing Vocals), Simon Todd and Warren Woodcraft (Percussion). Not to forget the band banter on track five, You Don't Know Me. This track lays down a fantastic blend of changes from a short swing to a burst of Latin grooves.

The title track, Red Flags and High Heels, is a soulful yet sombre blues where Fiona shares her life story; "Always nonstop and completely bewildering, Surrounded by kindness and so much hate" - powerful words convey the emotions of this tender being. The trumpet solo and infills delivered by this powerful yet gentle brass arrangement resonates and add a harmonic accent pleasing to the ear.

Listen to Red Flags here:

The mastering quality in More Time is comparable to a big label and the positive phrasing in the last verse is big. This is why I love grass-roots talent. Fiona's line-up certainly makes the hard work pay off. I only wish there was more bossa-rhythm in the last verse; on the other hand, keeping it short has left me wanting more. 

Fiona delivers a distinct, hypnotic and soft melody in The Apple Trees Won't Grow; the piano accompaniment is highly skilled and akin to the contemporary classical structure.  

This album is packed and filled to the brim with 14 enjoyable tracks. Each tells its own story; each song is expertly crafted, and the variety of instruments creates unforgettable moments that reinforce the song's intent.

A phenomenal amount of time and effort has gone into the packaging nicely presented to the highest quality; this includes the CD-sized complimentary booklet with lyrics and thumbnail prints of some fine art; I'm guessing watercolours and charcoal. 

Kudos to Fiona and her team for another great release. 

 

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