As the title hints, the focus of drummer/composer Chip White's Music and Lyrics
is the batch of original songs White came up with for the album. Unlike the standard material that tends to appear on a majority of new jazz vocal albums, White also penned lyrics for eight of the twelve tunes, sung here by Gail Allen. It is indeed refreshing to hear a vocal album featuring new songs, rather than some overworked standards. Of course, that novelty would amount to little if White's songs were sub par. Luckily, the new songs are musically and lyrically accomplished, very much in the style of the Great American Songbook, with nods to bossa nova.
Rain is languorous, with dramatic work from Allen and a fine, delicate piano solo by Lafayette Harris. "October Song is sprightlier, helped along by a quick, witty rhyme scheme devised by White. As on the other performances, the sense that Allen is not the "star of the album leads to a fine integration of vocals and instruments. The other musicians are given an equal opportunity to make their own statements. The results are delightfully retro performances that hearken back to the era when singers were simply parts of bands, and not the featured attraction. The songs have a real flowthey do not stop for solos merely so the singer can catch her breath.
Music and Lyrics is a real joy that's admirably eloquent in both music and lyrics, and White and his band mates pull off this ambitious effort with aplomb.
Personnel: Gail Allen: vocals (2,3,5-7,10-12); Houston Person: tenor saxophone (2,3,7,12); Lafayette
Harris: piano; George Kaye: bass; Chip White: drums.