Singer Chris McNulty has logged quite a few miles and years since she made the move to relocate to New York from her native Australia in the late 1980s. Dance Delicioso is her fifth effort. The album begins with an atypical performance of the Annie Lennox composition "Primitive," and her delivery here is in the manner of a high-priced pop singer, in the best sense of the word, whose strong voice could fill the room at a pricy supper club or suburban concert venue. "Primitive" comes off as a Linda Eder-ish presentation with an dramatic, yet cool vibe. My initial thought was... sounds good, but not jazz....
But don't judge an album by track one alone, especially when there are first-rate musicians aboard! After a moody version of the Celtic standard "He Moves Through The Fair," McNulty gets loose on several beauties.
She takes Cole Porter's "All Of You" for a ride as she swings this standard most credibly with help from Gary Bartz on alto and Mulgrew Miller on piano. Bobby Troup's "The Meaning of The Blues" gets a classy treatment that I wouldn't associate with any previous vocalist, and thus stands on its own as an unregistered "new version." The lite-bossa background is aided by a Brazilian tinge provided by Sonny Barbato (accordion), Cafe da Silva (percussion), and Paul Bollenback (acoustic guitar). Hearing Bollenback in these settings, after years of listening to him doing funk jazz (with Joey DeFrancesco) and hard bop dates, makes for quite an nice change of pace.
The very aptly named title tune (co-written by McNulty and Bollenback) is indeed delicioso, with fine contributions from Bollenback, Barbato, and both David Budway and John DiMartino on piano. McNulty provides the vocalese on this touch of Rio. Her take on another jazz standard, Depaul/Raye's "Star Eyes," moves at mid-tempo and is very effective. Other vocalists of a non-jazz sensibility would likely provide an aloof and formal reading of the song, but Chris McNulty is comfortable throughout.
In looking over McNulty's discography, her previous albums all seem to concentrate on selections from the Great American Songbook, with an occasional original. Half of Dance Delicioso consists of new material. Previous albums have been on small independent jazz labels; the 1990 session Waltz for Debbie on Discovery is the most accessible one.
Visit Chris McNulty on the web.
Personnel: Chris McNulty: voice; Paul Bolenback: guitars; Gary Bartz: alto saxophone; Mulgrew Miller,
John DiMartino: piano; Sonny Barbato: accordion; Erik Friedlander: cello; Ugommo
Okegwo: bass; Billy hart-drums; Cafe da Silva: percussion; Joel Frahm: saxophones; Dave
DiPietro: soprano saxophone; Gary Thomas: tenor saxophone.