Irene Kral – Kral Space

One of the three classic albums that singer Irene Kral recorded near the end of her shortened life. Kral is heard throughout at the peak of her powers on this haunting session featuring pianist Alan Broadbent, bassist Fred Atwood, drummer Nick Ceroli and Emil Richards on percussion and vibes. Her renditions of a slower-than-usual “Star Eyes,” “Once Upon Another Time,” “Small Day Tomorrow,” “Sometime Ago” (the definitive version), “Everytime We Say Goodbye” and a pair of Tommy Wolf/Fran Landesman songs (“It’s Nice Weather for Ducks” and “It Isn’t So Good It Couldn’t Get Better”) are all quite memorable. Her basic but heartfelt style and her ability to swing at the slowest tempos make Irene Kral one of jazz’s great ballad singers. (Scott...

Blossom Dearie – My New Celebrity Is You

Blossom Dearie’s career has undergone a series of unusual and impressive steps. It started in the 40’s with her arrival in New York; local jazz aficionados recall her as the intermission pianist in a 52nd Street strip joint. A long residence in Paris followed in the 50’s where she was the guiding light of a provocatively jazzoriented singing group, the Blue Stars, and later a solo performer, a singer and pianist with a distinctive and imaginative repertory and a voice that managed to combine a little girl’s confidential whisper with an aura of sophistication. In recent years she has become, more and more, a self‐con tained operation—she writes many, if not most, of the songs she sings, publishes them herself and records them on her own label, Daffodil. “My New Celebrity Is You” is a twodisk set that takes its title from a song Johnny Mercer wrote for Miss Dearie, patterned on the name‐dropping Christmas greetings that Frank Sullivan wrote for the The New Yorker and set in a catchy melody that adds to the complications of an exhaustingly tonguetwisting lyric. Miss Dearie steps neatly through its intricacies and moves on to a program of 15 more songs on which her own customary keyboard accompaniment is supplemented by swinging harmonica passages by Toots Thielemans and the warm sound of Hubert Laws’s flute. Along with two of the classics of Miss Dearie’s repertory, Dave Frishberg’s super‐sybaritic “Peel Me a Grape” and a warning of the dangers attendant on hearing “The Pro Musica Antigua,” there are a haunting new bossa nova by Miss Dearie, “Inside a Silent Tear,” with evocative lyrics by one of her English collaborators, a woman who calls herself Arthur King, and “Unless It’s You,” a song by Johnny Mandel and Morgan Ames that brings out the warmest, more searching qualities of Miss Dearie’s voice. Half the songs...

Doris Day & Andre Previn – Duet

Doris Day and pianist/composer Andre Previn are both better known for their work in film than they are for their jazz and popular-song recordings, but in late 1961 they met for the first time and discovered, according to liner note writer Irving Townsend, that they shared a love for “sodas, animals, and ballads.” The result was a jazz-vocal masterpiece, Duet. Both Previn and Day were enjoying successful periods in Hollywood–Day just a couple of years off her 1959 hit Pillow Talk, and Previn having racked up Academy Award wins two years in a row for his scores for Gigi and Porgy and Bess. Previn and Day also shared an often-overlooked jazz pedigree; Previn had recorded with all sorts of West Coast jazz luminaries in the late 1950s, while Day had been a sublime big-band singer with Les Brown in the 1940s. Duet, which also featured bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Frank Capp, grew out of Day’s desire to do something different from the poppy, large-orchestra sides that she’d been making for years. Previn’s elegantly restrained arrangements and the spare trio setting allowed Day to show what an excellent jazz singer she could be when given the opportunity. Previn was well-suited for this outing, having made a similar album with Dinah Shore, another fine jazz singer who rarely got to work in that context, just two years...

SACHAL VASANDANI – SHADOW TRAIN

Vocalist Sachal Vasandani has proven himself to be the king of “not-so-standard standards.” His ability to interpret, and breathe life into underutilized lyrics have made him a standout in the jazz scene. Shadow Train is Sachal, once again, doing what he does best. The killer band just adds to his...

Sachal Vasandani – Shadow Train

Vocalist Sachal Vasandani has proven himself to be the king of “not-so-standard standards.” His ability to interpret, and breathe life into underutilized lyrics have made him a standout in the jazz scene. Shadow Train is Sachal, once again, doing what he does best. The killer band just adds to his splendor. “Throw It Away” is a prime example. Abbey Lincoln (another purveyor of the “not-so- standard”) wrote this one. Sachal adds a haunting element with the addition of guest guitarist Nir Felder. Yet the arrangement and delivery do justice to Lincoln’s masterpiece without copycatting. Felder accompanies again on “Day In, Day Out,” which also includes some usually off-putting (to me, anyway) reverb. On this tune though, it works. Another skill that elevates Sachal to king-like status, is putting together a killer band to enhance his projects. With Taylor Eigsti on piano, Eric Harland on drums and Reuben Rogers playing bass, the creative possibilities for this album were through the roof, and these guys were able to execute. They even turned the Bee Gee’s “To Love Somebody” into a jazz ballad! Shadow Train includes some more familiar songs as well, like “Unforgettable,” which features saxophonist Dayna Stephens. With this mix of the unexpected and familiar, be prepared to hear these pieces performed in a way unlike any other.  By MAUREEN...

Carol Fredette “No Sad Songs For Me”

We last heard from vocalist Carol Fredette on her first Soundbrush recording, Everything in Time (2009). Her repertoire was replete with, …”Light latin jazz, humid islands, and secure mainstream treatments.” Fredette remains fairly true to this mix of styles on No Sad Songs For Me, specifically addressing all songs of upbeat content, if not tempo. The singer calls upon much the same band as on the previous recording, specifically pianists Helio Alves.  It is notable that No Sad Songs For Me is executive produced by Pablo Aslan and Roger Davidson,  two names closely associated with Latin jazz and bossa nova, styles that potently inform Fredette’s repertoire here. Fredette is serious about the title and title tune for this recording. It is surprising she included Jobim’s “Double Rainbow” and not his “No More Blues.” These songs are upbeat and the universal mood of this recording is supercharged positive. Fredette commands Bob Merrill’s “It’s Good to be Alive” and Irving Berlin’s “The Best Thing for You.” The former she treats as a delicate ballad and the later Latin-infused and simmered on high heat, Kevin Winard’s percussion being particularly effective. The Cahn-Van Heusen chestnut “To Love and Be Loved” is gently rendered as a perfect cocktail hour ballad. Fredette’s support is solid and competent, providing the singer an environment for her pristine vocal delivery of this most attractive recital.   Roger Davidson...

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