Nicki Leighton-Thomas One: Good Scandal review – more Fran Landesman gems

(33 Jazz)
The British singer, who captures Landesman’s lyrics so well, is joined by composer Simon Wallace and Dave O’Higgins on sax

At one time or another, every singer from Ella Fitzgerald to Shirley Bassey seems to have recorded a song with lyrics by Fran Landesman (1927-2011). Very few managed to catch her wary, sardonic tone, sometimes touched with a curious tenderness. One of the few was Nicki Leighton-Thomas, back in 2001, with her debut album, Forbidden Games. Fran was alive then. She’d been living in London since 1964, “a cranky, jazz-steeped, beat generation Dorothy Parker” (according to the New York Times), and writing songs with Simon Wallace. All together, the partnership of Landesman and Wallace produced around 300 titles.

In some respects this could almost be a continuation of that first album, with songs on such typical Landesman topics as Semi-Detached (a love affair, that is), Did We Have a Good Time? (can’t remember last night), The Secret of Silence (I talk too much); Leighton-Thomas makes a particularly nice job of that one. The music here, composed, arranged and led by Wallace, is played by some of our best jazz musicians. Special praise must go to Dave O’Higgins on tenor and soprano saxophones and the composer himself at the piano.

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