Stevie Holland – Life Goes On

Stevie HollandStevie Holland – Life Goes On
(150 Music)
Released – June 30, 2015

Many singers (or those who represent them), make comparisons in their publicity to giants in the business.

“Like Ella Fitzgerald,” one might say, “(NAME) is a vocalist who…”

Or, “In a style reminiscent of Peggy Lee, (NAME) has a unique sense of…”

You get the idea.

So when I get a comparison in my head that’s sort of off that well worn track, I get a little nervous. Not that I’m necessarily trying to win anyone’s approval; rather, the fear is that I’ll be so out of left field that it will demean the whole piece.

Stevie Holland reminds me of Mel Tormé.

Tormé had a style that sounded like anyone could do what he did. Anyone with lots of practice, spot-on ability to hit the notes, an impeccable, nobody-can-touch-me sense of swing, and the confidence that says yeah…anyone can do this.

Go ahead and try.

So, so effortless, she makes it sound. The great ones do. Never so much as in this set, that opens with that Arlen/Mercer classic, “Skylark,” and glides through pieces both old classic (“Tea For Two), new classic (James Taylor’s “Another Gray Morning), and fresh – Ms. Holland’s own “Tomorrow’s Looking Brighter Today,” with husband and composer Gary William Friedman.

Stevie Holland

Grammy award winner Todd Barkan (This year’s “Best Latin Jazz Album”) produces. The backing band includes Randy Ingram, piano; Peter Brendler, bass; and Jeff Davis on drums. Trumpeter Nicholas Payton guests on three tracks, and a string quartet appears on two.

It may sound easy, but don’t try this at home, kids.

This set is very highly recommended.

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Tracks in bold will be added to the playlist at

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Callaghan, the US-based, British-born country/pop/adult contemporary artist. “When You Loved Me” was one of the tracks I liked a lot.


Lauren White – Experiment

Lauren White - Experiment


Lauren White – Experiment
(Cherry Pie)
Released – April 4, 2015

“Inspired by the recordings of Irene Kral,” about whom Lorraine Dahl wrote in her book, Stormy Weather: “…she was a master of quiet understatement and good taste.”

And this is largely a quiet recording, with songs just a skosh away from the usual set of standards, like “Show Me,” the Lerner-Lowe tune from “My Fair Lady,” or “Lucky To Be Me,” a mid-40s tune with music by Leonard Bernstein (!), and lyrics from Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

Or entirely different takes on the very familiar – a very introspective “Gentle Rain,” performed as quiet and bluesy ballad before breaking into the beat we may all be more used to.

Whether the playful material from Dave Frishberg (“Wheelers And Dealers”), or the more melancholy material of Fran Landesman (“It Isn’t So Good”), Ms. White delivers with a serene intensity – finding the emotional center of the material.


Backed by the Quinn Johnson Trio, which includes Mr. Johnson on piano, bassist Trey Henry and Ray Brinker on Drums, this set rides that thin line between cabaret and jazz nicely, and is highly recommended.


Tracks in bold added to the playlist at


Here’s one of my latest “Oh, my” moments. Melody Gardot has a new set coming out in June – “Currency Of Man.” A few of the tracks are available now at the usual places. Here’s one of them – “Same To You.”

Oh, my.