is a talented singer whose talents are a fairly well-kept secret except on the West Coast, where she makes her home. Happy to Be is Kelly's eighth album, the first on Graham Carter's Colorado-based Jazzed Media label, and as has been her custom in the past, she chooses for the most part interesting songs that aren't heard nearly often enough. Compositions by Dave Frishberg
' "High in the Sky," and is rhythmically sharp as well. Perhaps Kelly's strongest bond to jazz, however, lies in her supporting cast, which embodies an A-list of Southern California's busiest and most accomplished sidemen. The rhythm section (Bill Cunliffe
, sings in a range so close to Kelly's that it's sometimes hard to tell who's who. That's not a problem elsewhere, as Kelly glides easily through a tantalizing melange of ingredients that begins with Snow's dreamy "Harpo's Blues" and continues through "Happy to Be" (written by Peterson and Inga Swearingin as a tribute to Bobby McFerrin
, Jeff D'Angelo and David Hocker), Bennett's "I Never Went Away" and Marder's "For Joni," in addition to the songs already noted. When she's not singing, there are brief but persuasive solos by Cunliffe, Wilson, Sheppard, Jenkins, Stout, McChesney and LaBarbera.
Splendid singer, commendable teammates, unerring choice of material. They add up to a well-earned endorsement for Julie Kelly and Happy to Be.
Track Listing: Harpo’s Blues; Happy to Be; Our Love Rolls On; You’re the Dangerous Type; Corcovado; I Have the Feeling I’ve Been Here Before; The Blues According to Orpheus; I Wish I Could Go Traveling Again; I Never Went Away; High in the Sky; For Joni.
Personnel: Julie Kelly: vocals; Clay Jenkins: trumpet; Ron Stout: flugelhorn; Bob Sheppard: saxophone, flute; Kim Richmond: saxophone; Bob McChesney: trombone; Nick Mancini: vibraphone; Bill Cunliffe: piano, synthesizer; John Proulx: piano, vocal, arranger (8); Anthony Wilson: guitar; Tom Warrington: bass; Joe LaBarbera: drums; Walter Rodriguez: percussion.