Oh what joy! This is one of those rare things, a crossover album that actually works. Opera singers singing more popular fare rarely work, but these songs were composed in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, when popular singers sang in a more recognisably classical style, and Jill Gomez, who is half Spanish and was born in what was then British Guiana, immerses herself completely into their style.
There are one or two purely instrumental items dotted around the programme, usually to indicate a change of mood and all the arrangements, most of them by Christopher Parker, but some also by Jeff Atmaijan and Geoffrey Alexander, are superb. At no point do you feel that the pudding has been overegged and they continually evoke the spirit of the movies of that period.
Only in The Peanut Vendor song (one I could in any case have easily done without) did I feel Gomez’s style a mite too sophisticated. Everyhwere else she is the perfect vocalist, but she is paricularly adept at pointing the lyrics in Noel Coward’s wonderfully witty Nina from Argentina and her diction throughout is superb. Her performance of Yradier’s La Paloma is easily as delectable as that of Victoria De Los Angeles, which, for me, can be no higher praise.
Only the most curmudgeonly could fail to be captivated by such wonderfully joyful music making. Ted Perry, of Hyperion Records states in the liner notes, that they discussed enough material to make a second volume, and my only regret is that they didn’t.