How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
With her innate sense of timing and phrasing, her ability to swing and to caress a ballad all with a rhythmic fluidity, Paula West's third album is a clinic on vocalizing. The play list is a combo of standards and less familiar material of differing modes. No matter where they come from, West's no vibrato delivery gives each tune a pure, natural reading absent unnecessary embellishments. This is not to say there's no feeling. A first hearing of her rendition of "Laura" puts one on notice that this lady can sing with considerable warmth. Her swinging credentials are irreproachable. She smokes on the opening medley of "Caravan"/"Night in Tunisia". This tune also sets the tone for strong backing and contribution made by top drawer jazz musicians West brings into the studio. There's the violin of John Blake, Bobby Hutcherson's vibes and Peter Bernstein's guitar all getting solo time on this track as well as playing in support of the singer. West is a risk taker by toying with the melody, taking her down roads not ordinarily traveled such as a tad to the left of center "Lush Life". Like a good singer should, West works well in a variety of instrumental settings. On George Gershwin's coy "Looking for a Boy" she sings over the Peter Washington bass as well as riding with Frank Wess' tenor. Long time accompanist Ken Muir provides major support on a lovely offering of "I Remember You". Peter Washington's slightly juiced bass is perfect to help create the haunting quality of this track. Like tunes seasoned with a bit of R & B, there's "The Snake" with Bernstein's chitlin' and grits guitar contrasting with a Wess fluttering flute.
West covers all the jazz stylistic bases on this 73 minute CD helped along with an all star batting order supporting cast. This is a first rate vocal album and is recommended. Visit Paula at www.citycabaret.com/paulawest.
Track Listing: Medley: Caravan/Night in Tunisia; The Snake; Big Stuff; Day in, Day Out; Laura; Blues in the Night; You Fascinate Me So; Lush Life; Them There Eyes; You Will Be Loved; Looking for a Boy; Here Lies Love; Bye Bye Blackbird; I Remember You
Personnel: Paula West - Vocal; Ken Muir, Bill Charlap - Piano; Peter Bernstein - Guitar; Peter Washington - Bass; Victor Lewis - Drums; Bobby Hutcherson - Vibes; Rudy Bird - Percussion; Frank Wess - Tenor & Alto Sax/Flute; Joe Temperley - Baritone Sax/Bass Clarinet; Ken Peplowski, Don Byron - Clarinet; Ryan Kisor - Trumpet; John Blake, Carlos Baptiste - Violin; Richard Spencer - Viola; Akua Dixon - Cello