All posts by Doug Boynton

I'm a marketer for a major international media organization. I've been writing about female vocal artists for more than ten years, but listening much longer. "Girl" is not a term I normally use for anyone over the age of 18 or so, but "Girl Singer" is a term I use with admiration and affection.

Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet – Vocal Madness

Uptown Vocal Jazz QuartetUptown Vocal Jazz Quartet –
Vocal Madness
Released – November 7, 2014

Dedicated to the late Tim Hauser, who founded the Manhattan Transfer – this east-coast based foursome joins with saxophonist Richie Cole (Lionel Hampton, Doc Severinsen, Eddie Jefferson) for a dozen cool tracks.

Ginny Carr leads the group. Her alto is joined by Andre Enceneat on Bass, soprano Holly Shockley, and tenor Robert McBride.

I’ve added Mr. Cole’s original “Bossa Nova Eyes,” along with “I Love Lucy” (yes, that Lucy), and Ms. Carr’s tribute to Eddie Jefferson, “He Was The Cat” to the playlist at 62ndStreet.com. But buy the album, and spring for the whole dozen. And forget the old standards. These tight harmonies and hand-crafted lyrics will have you believing they’ve been around for forever.

Highly recommended.

Jamila Ford – The Deep End

Jamila Ford - The Deep EndJamila Ford – The Deep End
(Skinny Chick Records)
Released – September 9, 2014

Jamila Ford has backed names like Bonnie Pointer (Pointer Sisters) and Melody Gardot; she gets her turn front and center on this five track EP.

Not wasted. Confident and powerful, Ms. Ford motors through four off-the-beaten-track jazz standards, and one of her originals, “Silencio.” That’s the one that got my attention, standing up alongside the standards, but…well, original.

As my kid, the musician, says, “Anyone can do a decent cover. Do you have the chops to make something original stand out?”

Yep.

The whole album is worthy of a five-spot. My favorites include “All Blues,” the opener, along with “Gentle Rain.”

And “Silencio.” All three added to the playlist at 62ndStreet.com.

But buy the whole thing.

Highly recommended.

Lissy Walker – Wonderland

Lissy Walker - WonderlandLissy Walker – Wonderland
Released – September 23, 2014

As intimate as a whisper in your ear, Lissy Walker’s “Wonderland” is a sweetly swinging charmer, delivering on the early 20th century mood the publicist’s pen promises.

Admittedly a muddler of genres, Ms. Walker manages to sound country one moment, modern alt-something the next. But hard to put into a box also means unique, right down to the choice of tunes on this disc – from 1918’s melancholy “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles,” to 1970s folk-rock “I Wish I Was A Fool For You,” written by Richard Thompson, a restrained arrangement that fits the lyric much better than the over-produced version Sandy Denny delivered in 1977.

Photo by Anne Hamersky

Alternately, there’s nothing at all restrained about Ms. Walker’s cover of Billie Holiday’s “Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?),” which reveals Ms. Walker’s theatrical background through a display of longing that could leave you wanting a cigarette when it’s over.

That’s one of my favorites from this set – along with “Isn’t It Romantic?” the Rodgers and Hart classic, once called “…the perfect song,” which opens with just the backing of Scott Nygaard on guitar, and then builds with strings to a bigger finish. Backing musicians are all first rate – in addition to Mr. Nygaard, Jon Evans on bass, Steven Bernstein on trumpet and John R. Burr on piano.

They’re joined by guest artists Carla Kihlstedt on violin and Ben Goldberg on clarinet. At times, as good as they all are, the recording mix can nearly overpower Ms. Walker’s delicate voice. I would have turned ‘em down a little.

But that’s a small quibble with this hand-crafted work of art, a fine addition to any collection of jazz vocalists, and is very highly recommended.

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