In his club appearances, English jazz singer Ian Shaw presents an eclectic repertoire, ranging from standards and jazz compositions to Joni Mitchell songs and Motown classics. For his latest and so far finest recording, he has chosen a dozen love songs from the ’30s and ’40s and transformed them into personal, contemporary statements. Shaw’s remarkable harmonic sophistication allows him to improvise with the fearless assurance of an instrumentalist, and his extensive theater and cabaret experience has taught him how to breathe life into lyrics. Backed by a sympathetic British quartet featuring Mornington Lockett on clarinet and soprano and tenor saxophones, Shaw energizes venerable pop standards (“I Concentrate on You,” “Time After Time,” “I’ll Be Seeing You”) and resurrects some evocative, all-but-forgotten ballads (“My Heart Is Haunted,” “Goodnight Angel,” the title song). Blessed with an engaging stage presence and a warm, confident voice capable of startling stratospheric leaps, Shaw leaves the terminally hip Kurt Elling, the stolid Kevin Mahogany, and other home-grown male jazz singers in the shade. A rollicking “Taking a Chance on Love” duet with his countrywoman Claire Martin (full disclosure: I have produced albums for Martin) caps a musically adventurous and emotionally satisfying collection.Joel E. Siegel
Ian Shaw performs Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. at the Nest Lounge of the Willard Intercontinental Hotel.