Like most people, I had a goth phase. At the time – the mid-90s – we had Poppy Z Brite instead of Twilight, which was effectively the same thing but with softcore homoerotic porn for heterosexual girls. The improbably beautiful industro-gothic boys in the book lived in New Orleans and listened to jazz, and so I found myself setting my alarm clock radio to Jazz FM, which woke me up at 7am every morning to Lullaby of Birdland. That is the beginning, middle and end of my knowledge of jazz.
People who do know about jazz have probably heard of experimental world-fusion cornetist Don Cherry, Neneh’s father. She covers his material here, along with songs by Suicide and Martina Topley-Bird and others. You might think an album of jazz covers would result in sterile coffee-table music, but it’s actually a warm, inviting sort of a record with lots of interesting twiddly bits for those that like that sort of thing. If you’re like me with little patience for noodly meanderings, Cherry’s rich voice will be the point of focus, along with that wonderful vibrant double bass.
There’s a lot more to Neneh Cherry than Buffalo Stance and 7 Seconds – for a start, her real background’s punk. Her diverse history, performing with everyone from The The to Timo Maas, means that her choice of source material here is pleasantly surprising (The Stooges? MF Doom?). My internet connection dropped before I could stream the whole album (which you can listen to here), but I think that I’ll be making the purchase pretty soon.