A new album by Alex Webb, ‘British Standard Time’ (Lateralize) is released digitally from November 5th 2021 and on CD on 21st January 2022. Featuring the vocal talents of Jo Harrop, Luca Manning, Tony Momrelle and Carroll Thompson, the 15-track album celebrates British songwriting past and present with a crack group of UK jazz musicians and sparkling new arrangements.
Tracks include works from the 1930s, when UK songwriters were creating works which were to be made famous by US jazz musicians – such as Ray Noble’s The Very Thought Of You (1934), Noel Coward’s Mad About the Boy (1932) and Try A Little Tenderness, a 1932 collaboration between Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connolly and American Harry Woods – a song probably best known now for Otis Redding’s searing mid-60s take.
The 1940s are represented by British pianist George Shearing’s classic melody Lullaby of Birdland, while during the same period saxophonist, arranger and composer John Dankworth was becoming a leading figure in the UK modern jazz scene. Dankworth’s Let’s Slip Away was used as the theme for the 1960 film, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.
Meanwhile British musicals were combining indigenous styles like music hall with newer pop trends, most successfully by Lionel Bart, whose As Long As He Needs Me is one of many unforgettable songs from his show Oliver!
From the 1960s on British rock artists and singer-songwriters supplied countless great songs, including John Martyn’s Man In The Station and Don’t Want To Know, Paul Weller’s You Do Something To Me and Elvis Costello’s Almost Blue – originally written for Chet Baker. An unlikely choice perhaps, but U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For is refreshed by a Miles Davis-influenced treatment (if you’re wondering, U2’s bassist Adam Clayton was actually born in England). The late Rod Temperton wrote many of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits, and is represented on the album by Give Me The Night, first recorded by George Benson, while another recent loss – the hugely talented Amy Winehouse – left us with the heartache of Love is A Losing Game. The most recent items on the album are Rag’n’Bone Man’s chart hit Human, and two new songs from Webb – who’s a British songwriter too!