With dancing drums like a legendary New Orleans funeral band, brass full of soul, guitars that fuse every style of blues and folk, Hugh Coltman has built himself a sublime backdrop for these eleven songs over which his warm journeyman's voice expresses his deep understanding of human emotions and sentiments, an indulgent listen for evening lovers, loners at dawn or the melancholic listener at midday... Who’s Happy?, his new album asks. Everyone and no-one, he seems to reply...
Hugh Coltman has always been true to himself without ever doing what you might expect. Born in Britain but residing in France, the former leader of blues-rock group The Hoax morphed into a folk-rock songwriter before exploring the finest in jazz heritage in his forties. It was a new chapter in the adventures of an artist who is keen to break boundaries, formats and conventions.
It all started in 2012, when he appeared as a last minute replacement for singer Krystle Warren at a concert by pianist Éric Legnini. Hugh Coltman discovered “the nonchalance of jazz musicians, who are more rock and roll than many rock musicians, who won't play a song on Thursday the same way they played it on Tuesday, who know their stuff so well they can do whatever they want”.
That replacement was the start of an extended journey paying tribute to Nat King Cole, with one album and a hundred and twenty concerts. Hugh Coltman was ready to "be lambasted by the press, as in, ‘who does he think he is, making a jazz record?’" In reality, Shadows, Songs of Nat King Cole was a huge success, winning him vocalist of the year at the Victoires du Jazz awards in 2017. It would be logical for him to come back with another album of covers, especially as he's recently reformed his first group The Hoax to record Recession Blues, A Tribute to BB King.
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