Personnel: Jacqueline Dankworth (vocals); Jacqueline Dankworth; Mike Outram (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, kalimba); Alec Dankworth, Tim Harries (double bass); Roy Dodds (drums, shaker, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Roy Dodds.
Recording information: Driftwood.
Photographer: Leticia Valverdes.
Vocalist Jacqui Dankworth is as radiant as ever on As the Sun Shines Down on Me, an album of recorded in 2002 and 2003 but seeing American release in 2004 through Candid Records. Joined by virtuosic guitarist Mike Outram, her bassist brother Alec Dankworth, and percussionist Roy Dodds, Dankworth interprets 15 old faves, keeping the mood light and tasteful throughout. Opening with a reading of "Blue Moon" could be a risk -- it's a well-known, perhaps even overplayed song. But the version here is so perfectly rendered, so gentle from the folky guitar line through the light brush work, that the song is reborn. While she's an astute jazz vocalist with perfect phrasing, one of the nice things about Sun Shines Down is how it integrates Dankworth and her band's training with the accessibility of pop. There's an easygoing universality about the album that's brought out in the slight bossa nova tinges on a reading of James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," a traditional take on "In a Sentimental Mood," or a unique, brief but beautiful "Hi Lili Hi Lo" that finds Dankworth dueting with Outram's thumb piano work. Other standout moments include a shimmering "Man From Mars" (originally by Joni Mitchell), more stellar percussion work from Dodds on "Teach Me Tonight," and versions of both Stevie Wonder's "Knocks Me off My Feet" and Bob Dylan's "I Threw It All Away" that find a peaceful, inviting voice inside the originals' established frames. ~ Johnny Loftus