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Only a churl on a diet of gruel and vinegar would baulk at The Songmen’s lack of swing and un-streety beatbox effects. It’s clever, affectionate singing, and every supporting sound is made by the singers. An eclectic programme runs from Thelonious Monk’s warhorse Round Midnight to Sade’s Smooth Operator, a version as camp as a row of tents. The counter-tenors possibly lead offonce too often, because there’s unemployed muscle in the lower voices. The highlight, perversely, is the only strict original, Sawyer’s ‘bonus’ setting of Betjeman’s Inland Waterway. More of that, please, and perhaps some more playful jazz material: Birdland? Twisted? The only dud in the set is Bright Eyes, which is off-limits to anyone except Art Garfunkel.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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