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Michelle Latimer: Michelle Latimer Sings and Plays (2005)

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Michelle Latimer: Michelle Latimer Sings and Plays How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

It seems odd that there aren't more horn-man/vocalists out there—or horn-woman/vocalists, in this case. Louis Armstrong broke the ground and set the standard; Chet Baker, in his cool way, kept the plow moving. But if you want to talk about the ladies tilling this fertile soil... well, I came up with a blank.

On her debut, Michelle Latimer Sings and Plays, the San Francisco-based trumpeter/vocalist enters this hallowed territory with a cool panache, a distinctive and assured style of a veteran jazz-bo, and a mature and finely crafted personal style. On vocals: think June Christy or Julie London in delivery—classy and a bit detached, knowingly so. On her horn: think Chet Baker with a bit more tang and bite to the tone. The attitude: cool and unflappable.

The set opens with "Blue Daniel," an instumental which features Latimer's unadorned straight-ahead tones, clean and succinct as she navigates the simple melody with an elegant aplomb. On cut #2, "Moon and Sand," she brings her vocals in for a beautifully unpretentious delivery with ringingly clear intonation that announces a fully-formed jazz artist. "The Lady don't put on no airs," you might say—accurately, if ungrammatically. Latimer seems to be saying, "This is my music—this is my soul. It's out here on my sleeve; have a listen."

Jobims's "Concovado" ("Quiet Nights, Quiet Stars") gets an unadorned, sparely-arranged treatment, Latimer handling the vocals with a tinge of Astrud Gilberto's classic bossa nova detachment. The horn solo is restrained, succinct, and reverent, with not a wasted note.

An excellent set, featuring covers of "(Love Is) A Tender Trap," the dated lyrics sounding fresh, with a Latimer zest, and "Angel Eyes," featuring a particulary gutsy vocal over an introspective arrangement; as well as a haunting take on the Beatles' "(The) Fool on the Hill," in addition to two strong Latimer instrumental originals.

Track Listing: Blue Daniel, Moon and Sand, Corcovado, Lush Life, (Love Is) A Tender Trap, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, The Days of Wine and Roses, Vierge, (The) Fool on the Hill, Whisper not, Angel Eyes, Lost in the City Together

Personnel: Michelle Latimer--trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals; John Evans--bass; Vince Lateano--drums; Alex Candelaira--guitar; Mark Little--piano; Guest artists: Derek james--trombone (1,5,9 & 11); Nick DeScala-tenor sax (5), flute (3 & 9); Katie Johnk--viola, violin (3 & 9); Scott Gould--guitar (6 & 11)

Record Label: Cool Note Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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