‘How About You’ starts simply enough, a few measures of descending piano riff and Muonoke’s vocal before the full-on ‘brushes and hi-hats’ rhythm section kick, and we’re treated to the rich pleasure of Muoneke’s outstanding vocal.
This is full, old-school combo swing-time jazz a la Gershwin, Basie, or Woody Herman, or the best of West End show-tunes, the piano riffing alongside upright bass and a perfectly phrased trumpet interlude, Muoneke’s voice deep, rounded, and resonant throughout. The timbre and tone of his mellow baritone a perfect counterpoint to the band beneath; Muoneke describes himself as ‘the young man with the old soul’, and on ‘How About You’ he’s not wrong, the song instantly transporting us back to a 1940’s pre-Bebop era of smoky jazz clubs, expressive, strong, and vibrant, Muoneke’s lyrics a canny mix of old school (‘Lady Ella’s voice’) and new (‘Some roti curry goat, rice, and peas’), self-aware but never jarring or incongruous.
A masterclass of swing, Muoneke’s debut album is available to pre-save via his Facebook page.
Review by Alex Holmes