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Redmond-Langosch-Cooley: Compared to What (2013)

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Redmond-Langosch-Cooley: Compared to What How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

In 2003, after I heard Mary Ann Redmond
Mary Ann Redmond
Mary Ann Redmond
b.1959
vocalist
's astonishing voice for the first time, we did an interview here called "On the Verge."

Well, she's still on that verge—at least everywhere outside of the Washington, D.C. area, where she lives. With just a handful of albums to her name, Redmond has won an astounding total of 22 Wammies (Washington Area Music Awards) in the jazz, pop, rock, blues, traditional R&B, and urban contemporary categories. The common denominator is the soulful power of her voice: it's safe to say that there's nothing like it in jazz.

Compared to What contains Redmond's most explicit jazz instrumentation to date. Produced by bassist Paul Langosch, who toured with Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett
b.1926
vocalist
for 20 years, and arranged by keyboardist Jay Cooley, who's played with Phil Woods
Phil Woods
Phil Woods
b.1931
sax, alto
and Ernestine Anderson
Ernestine Anderson
Ernestine Anderson
b.1928
vocalist
, it begins with a classic trio take on "Come Rain or Come Shine" that features a tasty tenor solo by Bruce Swaim. Langosch and Cooley are part of Swain's ongoing quartet, which helps explain the smooth camaraderie of their playing; they get fine rhythmic support from British drummer Dave Mattacks, who has recorded with Spyro Gyra
Spyro Gyra
Spyro Gyra

band/orchestra
, among many others.

But whatever genre she's exploring, Redmond's full-hearted interpretations distill every song into something unique and memorable. She swings just as hard on the blues anthem "Never Make Your Move Too Soon" as she does on Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
b.1950
keyboard
's "Creepin'" and Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
b.1943
vocalist
's "Coyote"; on Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar" she gets down and dirty with the help of Dan Hovey's sexy electric guitar.

Other highlights: Redmond's take on the jubilant title tune, which finally clarifies Les McCann
Les McCann
Les McCann
b.1935
piano
's classic 1971 vocal (you can love his version without fully understanding it); the sinuous Latin twist to Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen
b.1934
vocalist
's "Dance Me to the End of Love"; and the surprise ending of "I Got It Bad" which discards the standard chick-singer drama to underscore the song's quiet, underlying dejection. It's also worth noting that "Love Me Anyway," the haunting closing track, has earned her Song of the Year and Best Songwriter honors (with Todd Wright), and has also been covered by Celine Dion, in French.

When music consumers download their favorite titles from a record, it's easy to ignore the rest of the tracks. Although such technology frees artists to be more eclectic, it can also obscure the full range of their musicality. Given what Compared to What reveals about Redmond's bold versatility and sparkling talent, it would be a real shame not to enjoy the whole ride.

Track Listing: Come Rain or Come Shine; Dance Me to the End of Love; Compared to What; Storm is Coming; Never Make Your Move Too Soon; Creepin’; I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good; Coyote; Ain’t That Peculiar; What’ll I Do; Fool on the Hill; Love Me Anyway.

Personnel: Mary Ann Redmond: voice, guitar; Paul Langosch: bass; Jay Cooley: keys; Dave Mattacks: drums, percussion; Dan Hovey: guitar; Bruce Swaim: tenor sax; John Jenson: trombone; Tim Stankey: trumpet.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Vocal


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