With a flood of new CDs by female jazz vocalists released in 2007, it is a challenge for them to get a fair hearing. Louise Rogers, a veteran jazz educator who has performed in a variety of settings and worked extensively with children, is a breath of fresh air. She has quite a résumé, including studies with tenorist Jerry Bergonzi and New York Voices singer Kim Nazarian. Blessed with an unpretentious, very expressive voice and crystal clear intonation, along with gifts as a lyricist, composer and interpreter, Rogers' immense talent is immediately apparent. Her main foil is husband Rick Strong on bass, with pianist Matthew Fries, guitarist Paul Meyers, saxophonist Gottfried Stoger and drummer Mathias Kunzli making guest appearances on a several tracks.
Together with Strong, she sets poet Nikki Giovanni's "Be My Baby to music, sounding very hip, initially backed solely by Kunzli's hand percussion, with the bassist making a delayed entrance. She co-wrote lyrics for Mike Mainieri's Latin-flavored "Islands, scatting up a storm and discretely overdubbing a backing line at one point. Her haunting lyrics to Jerry Bergonzi's moody "Conjunction provide a ray of hope, with Fries and Stoger adding powerful solos. Rogers penned the subtle bossa nova "Shadows of Yesterday on her own, and Stoger contributes the challenging "Poet Song.
Rogers is equally at home with standards like "The Song is You (with Stoger guesting on soprano sax) and Richard Whiting's forgotten gem "Louise, a playful duet with Strong. Her choice of the traditional Celtic song "Lass From the Low Countree provides a poignant closing number, a moving duet with Strong on electric bass.
Personnel: Louise Rogers: vocals; Rick Strong: bass, electric bass; Matthew Fries: piano; Mathias Kunzli: percussion, drums; Paul Meyers: electric guitar; Gottfried Stoger: alto saxophone.