Antoinette Montague: Behind The Smile (2010)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Antoinette Montague shows what is Behind the Smileeclectic taste and strong delivery. She is joined by choice company on this outing: Mulgrew Miller (piano), Bill Easley (saxophone, clarinet and flute), Peter Washington (bass) and drummer Kenny Washington - Vocals, who doubles as producer.
Montague's programmatic choices are a varied mix, including blues, soul, the Great American Songbook, two Motown numbers and the original title track. She travels through these different genres without being tied down to any of them, but does show a strong affinity for singing the blues. Her work on Big Bill Broonzy's "Give Your Mama One Smile" and Buddy Johnson's "Ever Since The One I Love's Been Gone" displays her prowess and connection to genre. She has an edge to her voice (sometimes with a hint of that other WashingtonDinah) that allows her to belt the blues with the best of them, but there is also a softness that she can use when the song calls for it.
Montague includes a tune by jazz historian/critic Leonard Feather and lyricist Bob Russell ("I'd Rather Have A Memory"), recorded by Sarah Vaughan in the '40s, and the "23rd Psalm" by Duke Ellington, originally written for Mahalia Jackson. The Motown selections are Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" (featuring some nice interplay between voice and Easley's sax) and a funky rendition of "Get Ready" (full of Easley's wailing tones). There are some notable moments by Miller as he demonstrates his stride piano ability on Dave Brubeck's quiet "Summer Song," and tastefulness on the Kerr-Jennings ballad "Somewhere in the Night," originally sung by Kim Carnes.
Montague is a pop singer per se, with a good sense of tune selection. Surrounding herself with this group of fine jazz musicians as companions is another good reason she's smiling.
Track Listing: Behind The Smile; I Hadn't Anyone 'Till You; Give Your Mama One Smile; Ever Since The One I Love's Been Gone; What's Going On; The Song Is You; I'd Rather Have a Memory Than A Dream; Lost In Meditation; Get Ready; Summer Song; Somewhere In The Night; Meet Me At No Special Place; 23rd Psalm.
Personnel: Antoinette Montague: vocals; Mulgrew Miller: piano; Bill Easley: sax, clarinet, flute; Peter Washington: bass; Kenny Washington: drums.
Record Label: In the Groove