August 9th – Matt Monro – Memphis In June

Aside from his 1957 debut, Blue and Sentimental, Matt Monro Sings Hoagy Carmichael is the singer’s only album comprised entirely of standards.  The match between Terence Edward Parsons from Shoreditch and Indiana’s favourite musical son might seem an odd one but it works supremely well – and demonstrates how Monro had so completely absorbed the style of the American popular music he loved.

He did it so well that, during his lifetime at least, he was sometimes dismissed as a Sinatra-clone – perhaps in part because of a passing resemblance in vocal timbre.  In fact, his style owes as much to the relaxed phrasing of Nat King Cole as it does to Sinatra and, arguably, he was more at home with 60s and 70s pop than the Chairman.  One can’t imagine Sinatra (or Cole) improving on his reading of We’re Gonna Change The World – which might explain why only Gary Wilmot has been foolish (or brave) enough to cover it.

Memphis in June (lyrics by Paul Francis Webster) has seen a bit more action but still remains one of Howard Hoagland’s less familiar melodies.  Julie London, Irene Kral and our very own Liane Carroll have all done cracking versions – and it received a nice little boost as the highlight of Annie Lennox’s Nostalgia album – but Monro’s urbane reading (arrangement, Johnnie Spence) offers as good a vocal embodiment of Carmichael and Webster’s ‘shady veranda under a Sunday blue sky’ as you will hear.  You can almost smell the oleanders…