Don't Let Me Be Lonely
Johanna Graham (vocals), Martin Bowie (guitar), Tim Greenhalg (bass) and Damian Rodd (drums).
Johanna Graham Quartet
Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, the début release from the Penzance-based quartet, showcases a fine singer with a palpably individual style. The eclectic track list ranges from The Beatles (I Will” to standards (Stormy Weather) to more contemporary pop (Kate Bush’s Man With The Child In His Eyes).
JAZZ WIZE 4* REVIEW ….Years back, there was a fascinating self-help book entitled The Road Less Traveled (Simon and Schuster, 1978) by psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck. The premise of that long-time #1 best-selling effort was simple: in life sometimes making a riskier choice – where the unknown awaits – can be the most rewarding.
Perhaps taking Peck’s suggested advice, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely by British vocalist Johanna Graham takes a right turn at a musical crossroads and, for the most part, the result is a musically satisfying journey.
The recording offers up eleven interestingly presented selections wherein the vocalist – she’s from Cornwall – and her session mates make an auspicious splash. It is a noteworthy debut recording.
Graham’s vocal approach across the date is intriguing and approachable. She possesses a fine voice that tends to shine on the more energetic pieces. Her intonation is spot on and her rhythmic nuance is ideal. Her vibrato is fast – Eartha Kitt rapid – and when engaged, detracts somewhat from the beauty of her overall sonority. Her dynamic shadings are interesting and not extreme in either direction. Based on this recording, it’s obvious that this is a vocalist with some intriguing potential.
There are three well-worn GAS classics on the date (Stormy Weather, Summertime, and I’m Through With Love) and Graham performs them well. However, her star shines brighter on the more unusual efforts. For example, a neat rendition – and a terrific production choice – of The Doors’ People Are Strange, is turned inside-out as up-tempo swing and is a perfect vehicle for Graham’s interpretative skills. It is indicative of her apparent unique ability to choose wisely and make things happen with fare more well-known in another genre. Kate Bush’s The Man with the Child in His Eyes also gets the faster take, however, doesn’t seem to work as well at the faster tempo.
The piano-less supporting cast are all top-flight players and frame Graham exceptionally well. They swing heavy. Guitarist Martin Bowie sends up some tasty solos (Don’t Let Me Lonely Tonight) as does trumpeter Rory Simmons (Too Much). Bassist Tim Greenhalgh and drummer Damian Rodd drive the band exceedingly well.
All things considered, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely is an enjoyable introduction to an emerging vocal talent. So, when the musical crossroads choice appears, turn right here.
Track Listing: The Man with the Child in His Eyes; Funny Not Much; I Will; Too Much; I’m Through with Love; Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; People Are Strange; Empty Serenade; When Sunny Gets Blue; Stormy Weather; Summertime.
Personnel: Johanna Graham: vocals; Martin Bowie: guitar; Tim Greenhalgh: bass; Damian Rodd: drums; Rory Simmons: trumpet.
Nicholas F Mondello
Buy the album Don’t Let Me Be Lonely
The Johanna Graham Quartet has released an album entitled Don’t Let Me Be Lonely. You can listen to some tracks from the CD on this page and also purchase the CD here. It is also available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify ETC
The story of the Johanna Graham Quartet
Recently signed by the 33 Jazz label, the Johanna Graham Quartet comprises the elegant and hugely accomplished guitar phrasing of Martin Bowie, an exciting and vital drumming talent in Damian Rodd, brilliant and sensitive double bass from Tim Greenhalgh and Johanna herself on vocals.
The journey began in 2005, when Johanna discovered Martin as he was completing his jazz degree and the pair began to work together as a duo. In 2008, Johanna incorporated Tim Greenhalgh on bass, with Damian Rodd completing the quartet, forming a tight and enthusiastic team.
The band are extremely popular in Cornwall, having entertained audiences in the south west for many years, and with the release of their new album, they have been venturing further afield.
Johanna’s captivating stage presence and emotive style puts a fresh spin on jazz standards, with original compositions and modern classics arranged in her own unique way, and together the group produce a passionate and exciting sound.
The quartet won the This Is Cornwall Best Jazz Act, in 2012, and were nominated for Best Jazz Act in the South West Music Awards.
The Johanna Graham Quartet have performed at the Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho, 606 Club, Barbican International Jazz & Blues Festival, Birmingham International Jazz & Blues Festival, Bude Jazz Festival, Teignmouth Jazz Festival, St Ives Jazz Club, the Groucho Club, London, The National Trust, RNAS Culdrose – HMS Seahawk, the Headland Hotel, Newquay and the Daphne Du Maurier Festival as well as extensively across the South West of England.
Awards and Accolades
Winner of The Best Jazz Act 2012.
thisiscornwall.co.uk / What’s On Music Awards
Nominee The Best Jazz Act 2013.
South West Music Awards
As seen on BBC1 TV