Thanks to Robert D Rusch for this review in the January edition of Cadence Magazine.

Mark Jennett offers up a fresh tenor voice on Everybody Says Don't.  Here he takes 14 mostly un-worn songs by well-worn composers ... and approaches them in a way that grabs your attention to the lyrics and [makes you] believe in his delivery.

His often theatrical style is, at times, similar to Andy Bey, and one becomes very aware of words and storylines. This is a singer who makes things he approaches matter.  Even though his treatment of a song like You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught is upbeat and celebratory, the juxtaposition of the lyrics with the music, takes away from neither. Nicely backed by a capable quintet, this is a stylist to watch for.

 

 

London-based singer Mark Jennett has released a new CD and he knows and shows that a flame kept low for a slow-burning fire can be more effective than the dramatic, fiery, attention-grabbing vocalizing many prefer. It takes talent and focus to be mellow and yet mesmerizing. Mark takes the tempo and drama in low gear, but never sounds dispassionate or too offhand. With his spare approach, ever open to subtle shifts in emphasis and taking liberties with notes, he is often more the actor-interpreter than the Broadway-beamed grandstander. A quiet confidence informs his stance and phrasing, with vulnerability perhaps cloaked in a jazz man's hip assuredness. While he doesn't use a lot of vocal heft at all, or showiness, there's no doubt of his inherent musicality and grasp of the material. There's a respect implied and an understanding when he and his arranger go into uncharted waters. Jennett and Geoff Gascoyne, the arranger-producer-band member (bass, organ, synthesizer and glockenspiel) have the rare ability of making songs sound in the moment and owned, without the whiff of gimmicks.

Mark Jennett is a singer of considerable ability, refreshingly original in his treatment of items from the Great American Songbook ... But most intriguing of all is Jennett’s ability to act as a sixth instrumentalist, improvising over and around the chord sequences in a manner that brings to mind Mark Murphy.

Kicking off with the adrenalized title track, taken from the Sondheim musical Anyone Can Whistle, this hugely enjoyable 14-track collection from vocalist Mark Jennett presents a mix of standards, show tunes and pop classics.

****

On Everybody Says Don't, his second album, London-based singer Mark Jennett joins a bunch of top flight instrumentalists, including producer Geoff Gascoyne, on a collection that takes in an impressive array of songs, composers and moods. Great songs, interpreted with style.

Jennett opens up with Stephen Sondheim's "Everybody Says Don't," taken at speed. Gascoyne's acoustic bass and Sebastian De Krom's drums move the song forward with swing and precision, Jennett's vocal is suitably emphatic and Rob Barron's swift and percussive piano solo is all-too-brief.

Singer Mark Jennett has been a fixture on the London Jazz circuit for a while. Writer and singer Tamsin Collison interviewed him about his route into jazz, his influences, and his forthcoming album ‘Everybody Says Don’t (Release date September 15th, launch September 16th).

Tamsin Collison: Mark, writing about your new album, Ian Shaw describes you as a singer “who sideswipes the deluge of post Sinatra crooners – yet homage to the great swinging vocal tradition is ever present.” How much have you been influenced by the American Swing tradition?

Mark Jennett: My Mum listened to music a lot and my two favourites when I was little were Frank Sinatra and Dusty Springfield. Mum had the EP of ‘Songs for Swingin’ Lovers’ and I learned ‘It Happened in Monterey’ note for note from the record. I loved Sinatra’s phrasing and I guess I learned from him that you don’t have to be confined to the original notes and phrases of a song, although it was a while before I could put a name to that and call it jazz. I think what I loved about Dusty was how she always told a story and that there was always so much honest emotion in her singing.

***½

Another peek ahead to an early autumn release, this from jazz singer Mark Jennett with his band of bassist Geoff Gascoyne, pianist Rob Barron, drummer Sebastiaan de Krom, trumpeter Martin Shaw, and saxophonist/flautist Andy Panayi.

Opening with the Stephen Sondheim title track a song that featured in the second act of the 1960s musical social satire Anyone Can Whistle the horns riffing energetically against the up-tempo vocal line. Jennett has a soft light voice with good diction that compares a little to Ian Shaw’s sound and there’s plenty of mobility in his jazz referencing beyond his show sound. The Bacharach/David element of the album (Are You There (With Another Boy) and Wives and Lovers) is where Jennett emerges best, the band responding especially well to Gascoyne’s quite superb arrangement of Wives and Lovers. Barron’s stealthy opening to Some People sets the atmosphere of the song very strongly, and Jennett develops a nuanced hesitancy in his interpretation to match.

'A lovely collection of standards' is how Ian Shaw refers to this album, and he's spot on, as usual: give or take the odd Randy Newman song and a closing blues (Willie Dixon's 'Little Red Rooster'), this is exactly what talented debutant singer Mark Jennett serves up on this lively and consistently listenable album.

Jennett is not one of those intensely emotional singers who wear their bleeding hearts on their sleeves; he is, rather, of the Ella school, relying on faultless diction and interpretative intelligence to get the lyrics across (and his choice of standards, it must be said, is impeccable in this regard: 'Day In Day Out', 'I'll Take Romance', 'Too Marvellous for Words', 'You Go to My Head', 'Easy to Love' have seldom received more sensitive treatments, their every word made to count, their every internal rhyme subtly emphasised, their wry humour and wit skilfully drawn from them).