Versatile

Van Morrison

Versatile, Van Morrison’s 38th album, sees the Celtic soul singer interpreting some of the 20th century’s greatest standards. This record is rich and wild jazz band stuff, mainly horn-led, with Van Morrison’s still-expressive voice playing round, in-between and jumpin’ over the masterful players.

The 72-year-old legend bops on “Broken Record,” riffing on the title against the swinging horns. “Makin’ Whoopee” is a hoot, while “Unchained Melody” warbles with just piano and a mournful horn. “Start All Over Again,” and “Only A Dream,” both originals, get us up and moving into sly middle of the road jazz territory, proving that Van Morrison can write for this genre as well as sing it.

Versatile winds down with the upright bass and organ interplay on “The Party’s Over,” Morrison moaning through “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” and the toe-tapping piano and horn sway of George and Ira Gershwin's “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.” Not that any of us had any doubt Van Morrison can sing and write through a variety of styles of music, but Versatile certainly proves how versatile he is.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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