How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Robin McKelle knows fine ways to treat a song. Once again, as in her debut Introducing Robin McKelle (Cheap Lullaby, 2006), her vocal ability and flexibility sparkles as she sings, scats and swings with a big band behind her. This time, however, she shows more rhythm and blues touches and also captures an old-fashioned torch song delivery in her treatment of mostly standard material.
McKelle has a wonderfully rich assortment of qualities in her voice. She is able to belt, be bluesy or croon a ballad. But one thing that distinguishes her is an ability to float over the really big sound behind her without getting lost in it and never letting listeners forget that this is a vocal album.
This collection of American Songbook classics is instrumentally treated in two ways: swinging and upbeat with lots of brass or ballads softened by a full string section. Most of the arrangements were done by Willie Murillo whose trademark usually includes a tight brass section. Murillo, one of the producers of the CD, can also be heard on trumpet for several of the tracks.
Notable among the tracks is the opener, a finger-snapping version of Steve Miller's '70s rock classic "Abracadabra." Then there's "Lullaby of Birdland," where McKelle takes risks slipping and sliding around the melody; "Make Someone Happy," where she simply tells the story aided by some tasty muted trumpet work by Joe Magnarelli; and"Go To Hell," a 6/8-tempo rouser with hints of Aretha Franklin. There is even an original, "Remember," where McKelle accompanies herself on piano.
Track Listing: Abracadabra; Comes Love; I Want To Be Loved; Lover Man; Cheek To Cheek; Day By Day; Save Your Love For Me; Go To Hell; Lullaby Of Birdland; Make Someone Happy; Remember.
Personnel: Robin McKelle: vocals; Quinn Johnson: piano; Alain Mallet: piano (4, 7); Robin McKelle: piano (10); Larry Kuhns: guitar (1, 2, 5, 8, 10); Reggie McBride: drums; Mike Velario (4, 7); Bernie Dressel: drums and percussion; Nathaniel Morton: drums and percussion; Wayne Bergeron: trumpet (lead 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10); Gary Grant: trumpet; Joe Magnarelli: trumpet (10), flugelhorn (6); Don Clark: trumpet (1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 10); Larry Hall: trumpet; Willie Murillo: trumpet (4, 9); Andy Martin: trombone; Jason Thor: trombone; Charlie Morillas: trombone; Craig Gosnell: trombone; Dan Higgins: saxophone; Ray Herrmann: saxophone; Bob Shepard: saxophone: Pete Christlieb: saxophone (5); Andy Snitzer (7); Mark Visher: flute (3); Glen Berger: oboe (1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10); Daniel Ondarza: French horn (3, 6, 10); Kathleen Robertson: strings concertmaster/features; Cameron Patrick: strings; Peter Kent: strings; Adriana Zoppo: strings; Kirsten Fife: strings; Susan Chapman: strings; John Whitenberg: strings; Christine Wu: strings; Robin Ross: strings; Miriam Mayer: strings; David Stenske: strings; James Hanna: strings; Peggy Baldwin: strings; Sarah O'Brien: strings; Ira Glansbeek: strings.