Foundry 616, April 6
In 1972 Dave MacRae was in one of the most endearingly quirky and innovative jazz-rock bands of them all, Matching Mole. A particular gem on the British band’s indispensable Little Red Record was MacRae’s Smoke Signal, and here, to the infinite delight of a critic who thought himself immune to nostalgia, the pianist and his wife Joy Yates (vocals, words) revisited it in a charmingly reimagined guise, and with all the ease of long collaboration.
Collaborative artistry lies in the blending of sounds, the shaping of notes and the holes between those notes, and here it was rushing at you from all points of the stage. The husband-wife rapport extended to that with their daughter, Jade MacRae (these days a singer touring with blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa), and with long-time associates Gary Holgate (bass) and Nic Cecire (drums).
The first few pieces were merely pleasant and engaging, but then the instrumental trio settled into If I Should Lose You like it was sinking into a familiar armchair. This was supple, uncluttered, unforced music, made notable by the rhythm section’s unerring aptness and MacRae’s capacity to spice a solo with dissonance much as a great chef might spice a dish with cayenne.
If the edges of Yates’ voice broke up on Kern’s Yesterdays, it only deepened an impact that was raw, honest and compelling, before MacRae ripped an astonishing piano solo out of the song’s very heart. Then Jade sang the Bobby Timmons’ bluesy Moanin’, and scatted with such vibrancy, virtuosity, volatility and emotional potency as to beg the question of why she is not a major international jazz star.
Other highlights included Jade singing Rickie Lee Jones’ soulful Company, Yates singing How Deep is the Ocean (for her husband) and a rip-roaring CC Rider from all to close. Yes, some songs let the intensity seep away, but this this is the third time Bloodlines has been reviewed in these pages, and, like many things (other than health), it improves with age.