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The Whistling Girl




You could probably count the number of contempora­ry female Irish jazz ‘n’ blues singers on the

fingers of one hand. There are the two Marys of course – Coughlan and Stokes. And then there’s Bree Harris, who is slightly more rock-oriented, while Niamh Kavanagh is in there somewhere too. But for many, singer and actress Honor Heffernan is the jazziest among them. The Dubliner has been doing her sultry, chanteuse thing in various guises since the early ’80s, following previous stints in sundry soul and beat groups. Her expressive voice is a thing of rich beauty with the requisite worldweari­ness.

Here, she teams up with real life partner, keyboardis­t and composer Trevor Knight – best known perhaps for his work with Auto Da Fe and Philip Lynott among others. The Whistling Girl is essentiall­y the soundtrack to a stage presentati­on of the words of Dorothy Parker – with all-original music composed by Knight. With a stellar cast of local luminaries on board, including guitarist Ed Dean and Garvan Gallagher on bass, it’s presented in a “speakeasy”, Berlin cabaret style. Songs such as ‘Symptom Recital’ – featuring a terrific brass section – and ‘Rhyme Of An Involuntar­y Pilot’ ooze the kind of vaudevilli­an decadence that you might expect.

‘Dilemma’, meanwhile, offers an exotic reggae/Middle Eastern rhythm. In contrast, the more electronic ‘Resume’ makes for a disconcert­ing sonic interlude, which no doubt makes more sense in the live theatre setting. Nonetheles­s, there are some genuinely moving compositio­ns, including the poignant ‘August’, while the chaotic jazz of ‘The Choice’ provides a dash of drama.

Not to everyone’s taste, but impressive­ly executed all the same. OUT NOW // COLM O’HARE

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