Warren Vach‚: Warren Vach‚; Ronnie Rae (bass instrument); John Rae.
Personnel: Warren Vach‚ (vocals, cornet); James Chirillo (guitar, triangle); Cheryl Crockett, Laura Ghiro, Jonathan Morton (violin); Katherine MacKintosh (oboe); John Rae (piano); Diane Clark (double bass); Brian Kellock (drums).
Audio Mixer: Jim Czak.
Recording information: BBC Studios, Glasgow, Scotland (07/06/2005-07/09/2005).
Director: Jonathan Morton .
Arrangers: Percy Grainger ; Bill Finegan.
Cornetist Warren Vach‚ had more than 35 albums as a leader under his belt before he was finally able to realize his lifelong dream of making an album with a string ensemble. Don't Look Back was recorded in Glasgow with a 12-piece studio group called simply the Scottish Ensemble, and Vach‚ had the additional great fortune of securing the arranging skills of 87-year-old Bill Finegan, a legend who was essentially drawn out of retirement for this project. The deep experience of all concerned is showcased brilliantly on this album, which is basically an hour-long study in elaborate and gorgeously orchestrated melancholy. This would be called "make-out music" if it weren't all so richly and wonderfully sad -- it's more like breakup music for a couple who still loves each other and bears no ill will, but knows the relationship is doomed and is anxious to break it off gently and leave the happy memories intact. Vach‚'s tone is warm and heartbreakingly lovely throughout; the string arrangements are, unsurprisingly, richly detailed but never ostentatious. There are no uptempo numbers; from the hauntingly beautiful "It Was Written in the Stars," which opens the program, to the bittersweet title track that ends it, this album moves slowly and gracefully through various shades of lyrical blue, never stopping but never hurrying, either. This is perhaps not the best album to listen to if you're depressed already -- but if you're in the mood for something soft and sad, for mood music that rewards close attention, then you'd be hard pressed to find anything better than this. Very highly recommended. ~ Rick Anderson