Jacque Tara Washington's talent extends beyond being a jazz vocalist. She is an actress, appearing in such films as Spike Lee's Malcolm X
. She is a playwright, putting together a one-woman show Billie's Diary
based on the life of Billie Holiday, in which she of course stars. Washington has appeared also on the legitimate theater stage in a variety of shows. A skilled composer, she contributed a couple of originals to this her second album. And she can sing!
Washington has an extraordinarily strong voice and while she takes on the mantle of blues shouter on a couple of cuts, she generally uses her powerful tool with restraint and subtlety. Listen to her tell an affecting story on "Guess Who I Saw Today", the first half of a medley, and then move smoothly into a heart tugging "Mood Indigo". A teasing, playful side is exposed on an up tempo, swinging "Now or Never" recalling those wonderful girl soul singers from the 1960's. Some good muted trumpet and flute enrich this track by Corky Klinko and Al Hamme, respectively. Not stopping here, Washington unpacks her scatting skills on "It Don't Mean a Thing (if It Ain't Got That Swing)" and other wordless vocalizing paraphernalia on J. C. Johnson's "Trav'lin All Alone". With a voice as powerful as hers and her references to her faith in God in the liner notes, Gospel is remembered with the traditional "Amazing Grace" and mixed with the blues on "Living Here on Earth". Washington steps aside for a chorus of "A Man with a Horn" allowing Doug Sertl, Al Hamme and Rich Krisica to stretch out.
Although Billie Holiday is remembered by the stark "Strange Fruit" and an ardent "All of Me", Washington's vocal antecedents lay more with the likes of Dinah Washington, Phyliss Hyman and Roberta Flack than Lady Day. But in the end, Washington is her own person delivering on an eye opening, ear catching, toe tapping set of tough and tender tunes. Recommended. Visit her Internet home at http://www.shiojiri. ne.jp/~f-call/JSite.html
Personnel: Jacque Tara Washington - Vocals; Joe Magnarelli, Jeff Stochman, Corky Klinko - Trumpet; Doug Sertl - Trombone; Al Hamme - Alto & Baritone Saxophone/Flute/Percussion; Rich Krisica - Tenor & Soprano Saxophone; Mike Carbone - Tenor Saxophone; Mike Holober - Piano/Synthesizer/Percussion; Bill Carter - Piano; Mark Copani - Guitar; Tony Marino, Warren Oree - Bass; Tom Whaley, - Drums; Scott Latzky - Drums/Percussion