During the 1980's, Claudia Schmidt was a popular Mid West folk singer with her many albums, frequent appearances on such shows as A Prairie Home Companion, festivals and gigs. She has recently moved away from Folk, becoming a jazz singer. For this her second jazz album, she and her group, The Jump Boys, went into the studios for what these days is called a live performance. This means that everyone is present and playing together at the same time rather than having participants dubbed in at various locations around the country, a rather infamous practice common in the current recording business.
The play list for this album has a good balance between up tempo and ballad material. With the exception of one Schmidt original, everything is a familiar standard or traditional pop tune. Schmidt has a powerful voice with good range, but doesn't waste much time trying to be subtle or cute in her delivery. She comes at you straight from the shoulder letting the listener feel the full impact of her delivery, leaving nothing behind. Nonetheless, her approach, and the interesting arrangements, allow her to put her special imprimatur on each tune she sings. Kurt Weill's classic "My Ship" is done with a Samba beat. "Love is the Strongest Thing" moves between the low down blues and the signifyin' brought by a gospel hymn. "How High the Moon" is a first class swinger where Schmidt shows off her scatting prowess. The remainder of the session is similarly engaging.
Not only is the play list balanced, there is a sharing between Schmidt and her group, giving each member more than enough solo time. And they can play. Hopefully with this new release, Schmidt will become a permanent part of the jazz vocal scene. This album is easy to recommend.
Personnel: Claudia Schmidt - Vocal; Jeff Beavan - Bass; Dave Ksycki - Drums/Percussion; Steve Little - Guitar/Vocal*; Dave Schock - Trumpet/Flugelhorn; Steve Stargardt - Piano