Soul jazz diva Sarah Jane Morris released Sweet Little Mystery, an album of songs by Scottish singer/songwriter John Martyn. The album is a joint project between Sarah Jane Morris and long term collaborator, guitarist Tony Remy. Together they pay homage to the sublime genius of John Martyn - a restless, often self-destructive artist whose unique voice and music is both breathtakingly bold and achingly tender in its beauty. 2019 marks 10 years since his tragically early death aged 60.
Sarah Jane Morris is a singer with an astonishing vocal range. Her thirty-year career, during which she has garnered a loyal and loving international audience, has been wide-ranging and her rich contralto voice goes from strength to strength. She has performed with many groups over the years, from rock to soul to African blues, with classical orchestras, a one-hundred cello ensemble, with acoustic guitars and jazz big bands. Her voice, her versatility, and her emotional intelligence - the absolute authenticity of feeling which she conveys - make her a world-class compelling performer.
In 1986 she toured the world with The Communards when their song ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ became a worldwide Number One hit. She also performed with bands including The Test Department, The Redskins, The Annie Whitehead band and The Republic. For some years she fronted the celebrated 21-piece Brechtian big band The Happy End.
Perhaps surprisingly for an established English soul and jazz singer she has a very successful career in Italy where she plays frequently. She has a strong and passionate following there and has had several Number One hits, including a cover of Barry White’s classic ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. She has also had three Number One hits in Greece.
In November last year Sarah Jane worked with Orphy Robinson on his Van Morrison show Astral Weeks, to great acclaim. Revisiting popular songs has always appealed to her, famously in Don’t Leave Me This Way, and another cult single, Billy Paul’s Me and Mrs Jones, but also works by Bob Dylan, Sting, John Lennon and Tom Waits. She has said that she will only cover a song if she feels she can take it, change it, claim it and make it her own.
Sarah Jane has featured the music of John Martyn in her shows and has included some of these new arrangements to enthusiastic audiences in recent performances, so Sweet Little Mystery is an album eagerly anticipated by those already given a taste of her take on this material, as well as by fans of John Martyn. Sarah Jane and Tony completely re imagine John Martyns' songs, retaining their original hypnotic fragility, with her voice matching the emotional and musical range of his and Tony’s arrangements and grooves, helping her voice create new and illuminating versions of the music. These are fresh and invigorating re-interpretations that make you listen anew to familiar tunes.
Musicians on the album include Tony Remy on electric and acoustic guitars, Trinidadian born Tim Cansfield on acoustic guitar, Henry Thomas on acoustic and electric bass, Martyn Barker on drums and percussion and Jason Rebello on piano and keyboards, Tessa Niles and Gina Foster on backing vocals and a string quartet put together by Sarah Jane’s long-term friend and fellow Comunard, Sally Herbert and other illustrious guest musicians.
“..she speaks to the soul” THE TIMES
“..her take on the music of John Martyn…felt incandescent” EVENING STANDARD