Robert Wyatt, Gilad Atzmon, Ross Stephen - For The Ghosts Within (Domino)

Wyatt and company offer jazz interpretations of some classic standards and his own songs.

Released Oct 17th, 2010 via Domino / By Norman Miller
Robert Wyatt, Gilad Atzmon, Ross Stephen - For The Ghosts Within (Domino) “I’m not a jazz musician but it’s the fountain from which I drink” is how Robert Wyatt acknowledges the form’s influence on his many years of leftfield music making. So it’s no big surprise to find him making an album that is essentially a chamber jazz standards collection plus jazzy visits to his own back catalogue.

Though the album is dominated by slow, almost stately takes on jazz standards such as 'Laura', 'Lush Life', 'What’s New?', 'In A Sentimental Mood' and 'What A Wonderful World' which wrap Wyatt’s off-kilter croon in romantic strings and lush brass, the tempo is varied with sprightlier numbers decked in Arabic influences add musical grist.

The title track is a jewel of the latter approach, a superb 7-minute slice of Arabic jazz swing decorated by Tali Atzmon’s hypnotic vocal. By way of complement and contrast, 'Where Are They Now?' is a springy Arab-meets-Latin jump with vocals by Shadia Mansour and Ramallah Underground’s Stormtrap.

It’s important to acknowledge that this is a true collaboration, as Stephen’s spine-tingling string arrrangements and Atzmon’s playing - particularly clarinet - are what make many of the tracks, such as the fabulous take on 'In A Sentimental Mood'.

Curiously, the weakest tracks here are Wyatt’s jazz versions of his own songs - 'Maryan', 'At Last I Am Free' - along with an lamely over-sentimental version of 'Wonderful World'. But by and large this album glows with genuine affection and great musicianship.