Irene Atman: New York Rendezvous (2009)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Every once in a while, a fresh voice comes along that's worthy of notice. Or, in the case of Irene Atman, it's an experienced voice with a fresh interpretation of classics.
When other children wanted to hear bedtime stories or have parents sing them to sleep, Atman sang to herself. By the age of seven, she'd become attached to the recordings of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day and Peggy Lee, among others. As a young adult, she began singing professionally, including a two-year stint as an entertainer for the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. Now, Atman brings her style to some classics with New York Rendezvous, backed by the quartet of Frank Kimbrough on piano, Jay Anderson on bass, Matt Wilson on drums and Joel Frahm on saxophone.
The musicians begin softly on "Two for the Road." Atman's sultry alto delivers the lyrics with subtle but distinctive inflections. Kimbrough solos, with Anderson and Wilson complimenting. Frahm also solos. Atman returns for the selection's closing sequence, emphasizing certain roads with finely tuned vibrato.
"Why Did I Choose You" is the longest selection on the album and for good reason. Atman sings this melancholy piece with a vocal dexterity equivalent to a flute that can speak words. It's often difficult to tell that she's taken a breath, as she seamlessly moves from one sustained note to the next phrase.
While "Charade" again focuses on Atman's skills, the arrangement takes the musicians a bit off the proverbial beaten path. Frahm solos on soprano saxophone while Kimbrough, Anderson and Wilson seemingly ad-lib in the background. Each seems to be on a different course, yet they're all journeying together. Things intensify when saxophone and piano take turns driving. The song ends with Atman's sustained flute-like fade, followed by a piano roll by Kimbrough.
Singing requires not only control of pitch, amplitude and breath, but also enunciation. Atman excels in all areas, particularly the latter. The combination of these arrangements and Atman's exceptional control ensure that New York Rendezvous isn't just another collection of standards.
Track Listing: Two for the Road; Taking a Chance on Love; Why Did I Choose You; Somo Novios; Time After Time; I'm a Fool to Want You; Charade; A Time for Love; Alfie; The Glory of Love.
Personnel: Irene Atman: vocals; Frank Kimbrough: piano; Jay Anderson: drums; Joel Frahm: tenor and soprano saxophones.
Record Label: Self Produced