Moonray is a significant step forward for James Hudson and bodes well for his future development.

Self Release

James Hudson – Vocals/Arranger; Tom Smith – Arranger/Musical Director/Saxophone/Bass Clarinet; Luke Tomlinson – Drums; Jack Tustin – Bass; Nick Fitch – Guitar; Joe Hill – Piano; Tom Walsh – Trumpet/Flugelhorn; Ralph Wyld  – Vibraphone

Dan Oates – Violin 1; Rosie Judge – Violin 2; Jordan Sian – Viola; Susie Blankfield – Cello 1; Bryony Moody – Cello 2

Recorded 27/28 February & 17 April 2023

Following on from his well received debut album Tomorrow released in 2021, Hudson steps up a notch with this ambitious second album that again focusses on the standard repertoire but with his own personal slant.

This time out, Hudson has expanded the line up looking for as he says to “combine the sounds of the George Shearing Quintet with the style of the Marty Paich Dek-tette / Mel Torme albums, to create my own unique line-up with a contemporary flavour”.

A lofty ambition indeed, and to help achieve this Hudson has enlisted the services of Tom Smith to act as Musical Director and arranger. In doing so, the accompanying cast has been expanded to include two front line horns, vibes and a string quintet and the tonal palette available is worked extremely well by Smith and Hudson in their arrangements.

What is impressive is to hear how Hudson has continued to hone his craft, and the vocal control and expression on ‘Feed The Birds’ is a joy. Elsewhere, Hudson and the band are out to swing, and this they do with great gusto and aplomb on ‘From This Moment On’ which captures nicely the feel of a much bigger band, complete with smart alto solo from Tom Smith.

Not to get lost in the fine solos from the band, this is after all the vocalist’s album, Hudson give some sterling and stirring performances. The arrangement of ‘That’s All’  is a case in question where it would be all too easy for Hudson to get lost and overwhelmed by the bold orchestration, but instead of taking a back seat he steps out to be heard delivering a finely paced rendition of the song.

If working the arrangements to one’s advantage is the art of the vocalist, Hudson once again shows his calibre and mettle in a wonderful version of that beautiful ballad ‘Careless’. Superbly arranged for the strings and rhythm section, Hudson is in his element. Displaying his prowess on an up tempo number, the vocalist swings mightily on Miles Davis’s composition ‘Four’, handling Jon Hendrick’s lyrics with ease ad clear diction.

Whether you feel that Hudson has fulfilled his aim of adding a contemporary slant to the sound of Shearing and Paich is open to debate, but what is certain is that Moonray is a significant step forward for James Hudson and bodes well for his future development.