anyone can make old standards sound fresh, it’s Robert Wyatt. For The Ghosts Within presents the prog
rock godfather in collaboration with saxophonist Gilad Atzmon and violinist Ros
Stephen, the latter responsible for the arranging and leading of the string
quartet that provides most of the musical backdrop. Chestnuts like “Laura,”
“What’s New” and “In a Sentimental Mood” get new life from this trio, along
with pieces associated with Wyatt.
strings sometimes feel a little heavy-handed but Wyatt’s whistled melody on
“Round Midnight” offers a new angle on a song that’s been redone umpteen times.
Ambition overtakes “Where Are they Now,” a recasting of Wyatt’s “Dondestan”
that begins like 1930s swing and shifts to a contrived update of the melody
over a hip-hop beat complete with non-English rapping. From Wyatt, who can make
ambitious projects sound effortless, this comes as a shock. On the other hand,
when he foregoes his gruff side and sings “What a Wonderful World,” it sounds
as moving as Louis Armstrong’s original.
DOWNLOAD: “Lullaby for Irene,”
“What a Wonderful World” MIKE SHANLEY