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Michael Cotton & Nikola Monfort

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Reviews of Michael Cotton & Nikola Monfort

 

26/06/2007 Ian Mann-24 dash.com

Our review copy is a "white label" CD carrying the minimum of recording information, However, we did receive a press release. Cotton and Monfort are a close harmony duo who attempt to create the atmosphere of the 1940's.

Aided by musical director Paul Higgs they have chosen a selection of songs by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer as the vehicle for their interpretations. Many of these songs are established jazz standards. Although Cotton and Monfort retain some jazz elements their delivery also reflects the origins of the songs as show tunes. Their influences include Doris Day, Dean Martin and Judy Garland as well as Ella Fitzgerald.

Both Cotton and Monfort have a background in theatre, dancing and West End musicals and this comes across in their sassy, extrovert versions of "Accentuate The Positive" and "Lets Fall In Love".

I'm more at home with the stripped down, blues inflected approach of "Come Rain Or Come Shine", which to me shows Monfort's voice in it's best light. She is excellent here and is well supported by the versatile Higgs at the piano. A visit to www.Jazzcds.co.uk reveals that Higgs also contributes guitar, trumpet and melodica over the course of the album.

"Laura" is one of a number of tracks to feature Latin rhythms, a reflection of Monfort's Spanish ancestry and her love of dance. This version features the warm vocal of Cotton.

The title track showcases the duo's close harmony work and is undeniably well executed.

"Old Black Magic" is extrovert and brassy, it's Latin rhythms featuring drummer Geoff Lardner and percussionist Graham Cutill. Saxophonist Mark Allaway also shows up strongly.

"P.S. I Love You" is another feature for Monfort and the sparse backing of piano, Lardner on brushes and Allaway on tasteful tenor is just the ticket. This is another of my favourite items here.

"Paper Moon" is a bouncy duet with scat vocals from Cotton and Monfort and "I'm Old Fashioned" also sees them sharing the vocal duties. "Old Fashioned" is probably my pick of the duet numbers with Allaway's clarinet adding much to the enjoyment.

"Charade", also a duet, benefits from a skilful arrangement and Higgs' distinctive melodica.

"Blues In The Night" is just a great song and Jerome Davis' resonant bass and Higgs' growling, bluesy trumpet add much to the atmosphere.

"Autumn Leaves" is a feature for Cotton with sympathetic backing from Higgs at the piano and there's no doubt that he's good at what he does.

An exuberant "Get Happy" takes the album out on a swinging note, the breezy vocals backed up by a punchy brass arrangement.

Those who are already fans of this style of music should find much to enjoy here and there is no doubt that Cotton and Monfort are highly accomplished singers and entertainers. The loving arrangements of Paul Higgs and the instrumental contributions of the individual musicians are also worthy of praise.

DRESS CIRCLE RECORDS

Review by Ian Mann

 

06/06/2007 Samuel Hickling BBC Radio 3

The vocal harmonies and arrangements were well thought out, and the songs well chosen.

 

05/05/0007 Sarah Cropper, Beleza Productions

it's a great recording, obviously great singers.

 

26/04/0007 Duncan Heining, Jazzwise

very professional, well-produced and arranged

 

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