Mark Jennett is a singer of considerable ability, refreshingly original in his treatment of items from the Great American Songbook (Sondheim, Bacharach, Gershwin, Porter et al) as part of a fine band with intriguing arrangements by Geoff Gascoyne. 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.

Consider Are You There (With Another Boy); Jennett glides in over a gentle backdrop from piano, bass and drums, nimbly negotiating chord changes with great aplomb. Wives and Lovers is taken uptempo, with Jennett unafraid to take liberties with the phrasing to great effect, and fine solos from Andy Panayi (tenor) and Rob Barron (piano).

Jennett’s total confidence is shown on How Long Has This Been Going On, when the vocals are on a par with the instrumentals with Jennett seemingly walking a tightrope but always ending on the correct note. It’s the total confidence that Jennett has in his improvisations that make these performances – Hurry, It’s Lovely Up Here is a joy, whilst Oh, Look At Me Now has Jennett dueting with Geoff Gascoyne’s bass, displaying such musical confidence.

To echo There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This, on this standout performance, I really can’t imagine what that might be. Five stars, as they once used to write.

Greg Murphy
Jazz Rag