Belfast Telegraph

Van Morrison turns to jazz classics for second album this year

By Michelle Weir

He may be 72, but Belfast blues legend Sir Van Morrison is showing no sign of slowing down, with the imminent release of his second album this year.

The new 16-track studio album comes out on December 1, just three months after his 37th LP, Roll with the Punches, which charted in the UK at number four in September.

Sir Van's latest album, Versatile, comes five decades after his classic Brown Eyed Girl.

It sees him delve back into the archives to interpret some of the 20th century's greatest vocal jazz standards in his unique style.

Versatile features six new compositions, including the late-night swing Broken Record, as well as songs originally made famous by the likes of Chet Baker, Frank Sinatra, the Righteous Brothers, Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole.

"Recording songs like these, especially the standards, gave me the chance to stretch out vocally and get back to the music that originally inspired me to sing jazz," the singer said.

The songs aren't just a trip down memory lane - they were recorded as Sir Van played venues across Co Down and at Dunluce Castle in Co Antrim over the past couple of years.

Venues included the Stormont Hotel, The Courtyard in the Clandeboye Estate, The Culloden Hotel, Slieve Donard Hotel, and Holywood Studio in Co Down.

The live format will have suited Sir Van, who admitted recently that he now finds recording "boring".

"People would not believe how boring it is. I used to enjoy making albums, but the whole process of doing it now, I don't enjoy it at all," he said.

According to the singer's publicist, Versatile "is a completely different record to 'Roll with the Punches', yet it's incontrovertibly Van and proof, if ever it were needed, that at 72 years of age, he's not going to slow down any time soon".

"Versatile is positive proof that Van Morrison is built differently to other artists," he added.

"One of very few British recording artists to warrant the description 'living legend', Van is currently working at a rate to put musicians a third of his age to shame; an ethic that harks back to his early days as a recording artist who'd easily release multiple brilliant long players within the space of a year."

Van Morrison will be in concert at the Europa Hotel, Belfast, on December 4 and 5.

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