Throughout this lovely album, Wilma Baan may have chosen some well known songs from the standards repertoire

WB002 (Available from Bandcamp)

Wilma Baan – voice; Graham Harvey – piano & keyboards; Jeremy Brown – double bass & electric bass; Sebastiaan de Krom – drums; Tristan Banks – percussion (2, 3, 4, 6, 10); James McMillan – flugelhorn & trumpet (3, 10); Nat Steele – vibraphone (5, 8, 12); Nigel Price – guitar (1, 6, 9)

Recorded 7, 8 and 9 November 2022 at Quiet Money Studios

It doesn’t seem that long ago that after a musician released a successful recording that there would follow talk regarding ‘the difficult second album’. Thankfully, this now seems to be a thing of the past, and no such pressure is put on the artist or the creative process and certainly no such constraints seem to have hampered Wilma Baan.

Two years on from her debut So Nice, Baan once again presents an album of songs predominantly from the Great American Songbook that are recast superbly by pianist and arranger Graham Harvey and delivered by Wilma in a fresh and contemporary programme that reminds just how wonderful these songs are.

As wonderful as the repertoire maybe, it is nothing without the right musicians to bring the music to life, and this is certainly achieved here. Wilma herself is singing better than ever, and there can be heard in her performance a confidence and assurance that has grown immeasurably since the debut album.

Graham Harvey is once again responsible for the arrangements as well as some extremely tasty solos and accompaniment.

The pianist is the only musician to have worked on both of Wilma’s albums, and we are presented with a new band for Look At Me Now! In addition to the core band of Harvey, bassist Jeremy brown and Sebastiaan de Krom on drums, the vocalist has brought in some guests to join the party.

Guitarist Nigel Price is becoming a ubiquitous presence on the recordings of others, and his contributions here make it easy to hear why. On the opening ‘Oh! Look at me Now’ his playing alongside the piano of Graham Harvey is faultless.

His accompaniment is sparse and unobtrusive but essential to the overall group sound, and his introduction on ‘The Day It Rained (Chuva)’ along with his solo is beautifully flawless, and just what Wilma and the song requires.

Nat Steele was persuaded to set up his vibes for three tracks and like the guitarist fits effortlessly in with the rhythm section and the vocalist. There is a lovely reading of ‘Waltz For Debby’ in which Nat also takes a lyrical solo, and his playing alongside Wilma on ‘Bein’ Green’ (a song for which I hold particular affection) exudes good taste.

Making an appearance as a second voice to Wilma’s on ‘When In Rome’ and ‘Somewhere In The Hills (Favela)’, James McMillan brings an exquisite touch with his muted trumpet on the former and some exuberant flugelhorn on the latter, while percussionist Tristan Banks graces five of the tunes and bringing another dynamic to the performances and his playing on ‘The Great City’ combined with the drumming of de Krom is a real pleasure.

Of the vocalist, the inclusion of such distinguished guests and her top notch rhythm section seem to ensure that she has everything she could possibly want in a band, and she makes the most of the occasion.

She sings with an abundance of joy throughout, swinging hard on ‘Old Devil Moon’, and her delivery of the lyric on ‘The Windmills of Your Mind’ is spellbinding.

Throughout this lovely album, Wilma Baan may have chosen some well known songs from the standards repertoire, but has been able to bring a little bit of herself to bear on each of the twelve songs in delightfully fresh and original interpretations.