As the daughter of respected jazz critic, Leonard Feather, Lorraine Feather comes to her jazz pedigree honestly, but more from natural talent than dogged filial loyalty. In possession of a pure, rich voice, she tried acting—along with some discouraging stints in the food industry—before finding her multi-colored niche in singing and composing. Ages, about the epochs that women of “a certain age” look back on, is full of artistry and humor.
Co-written with Yellowjackets pianist/arranger Russell Ferrante, guitarist Eddie Arkin, pianist Shelly Berg, banjoist Bela Fleck and pianist/arrangerDick Hyman, Feather plays the light-hearted schoolgirl, then revolves back to a deep-hearted but not cloying look at ages long lost. “I Forgot To Have Children” is a great tongue-in-cheek look at an issue that nary a single woman has not considered when looking at the end of their culture- driven “shelf life.” Yet it’s not a clichéd look, either. Her lyrical arabesques can elicit moments of pensive thought as well as guffaws of laughter. With musical dexterity—a very credible tribute to the 1890’s pop musical ballads with “The Girl With the Lazy Eye”—she comments on anything from the girl who doesn’t fit in the usual cliques in high school to the surprised commentary that all have asked, “How Did We End Up Here?”
From straight-ahead mainstream jazz to ballads that defy a sugary overlay, then to an elegant bossa nova, Feather’s back-up musicians easily keep pace with her strong, smooth vocals. With bassist Michael Valerio and vibraphonist Bob Leatherbarrow augmenting the rest of the group, their originality meets Feather where she lives, in an intelligent, witty, sometimes pathos-ridden world.
That, in the end, is what shines on Ages. This is not a “chick’s album.” Yes, there are the inevitable songs about significant relationships, but none are hackneyed or gender-driven. No more can be asked than that Lorraine Feather has produced a polished yet very engaging look at this life. It may leave a smile, as well as recalling those long-lost secrets that we thought only we knew.