Dana Lauren: It's You Or No One (2010)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
It's impossible to predict when chance will smile favorably, so it's important to be prepared for when that opportunity arrives. Vocalist Dana Lauren seized chance by the proverbial throat when, at the age of 17, she met Arturo Sandoval at a jazz festival. That encounter led to Lauren performing with Sandoval at his Miami club, and to her debut recording, Stairway to the Stars, which the trumpeter produced.
Inspired by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae and Mel Torme, Lauren capitalized on the opportunities that came her way when she met Sandoval during the 2006 Newport Jazz Festival. An award-winning soloist, Lauren has continued her studies at Berklee College of Music, and now, at 21, has released her sophomore effort, It's You or No One.
Tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm helps open "That Old Black Magic," aided effectively by pianist Manuel Valera, bassist Luques Curtis, and drummer Goldbas. Lauren avoids tradition as she sings the melody, maintaining a steady, melodic speaking pattern rather than a more typical rise and fall, changing with pace and emphasis at the right moment. Toward the end of the piece, Lauren demonstrates her scat abilities, while Goldbas stretches out.
Lauren swings on "Give Me the Simple Life," skillfully running phrases together, carrying notes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. Her pronunciation is sharp and distinct. Solos by Frahm and Valera are underscored by some crafty cymbal work from Goldbas.
The rest of the band takes a break, with Lauren accompanied only by guest bassist Christian McBride on "On the Sunny Side of the Street." The two musicians complement each other well, with McBride first walking along as Lauren sings, but then going it alone, making his instrument hum at times.
Lauren has her own style, but hints of Fitzgerald and Tormé can be heard in her phrasing, and especially her scatting. Young vocalists can often become trite by doing standards, but Lauren avoids that pitfall by including a few songs that haven't been done ad nauseam, helped by some fresh arrangements and superb performances by herself and her band.
Track Listing: That Old Black Magic; Isn't This a Lovely Day; There's a Small Hotel; Give Me the Simple Life; Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful / The Sweetest Sounds; On the Sunny Side of the Street; It's You or No One; In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning; I Had the Craziest Dream; Mr. Paganini.
Personnel: Dana Lauren: vocals; Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone; Manuel Valera: piano; Will Graefe: guitar; Luques Curtis: bass; Jake Goldbas: drums; Christian McBride: bass (6).
Record Label: Self Produced