For her 4th album, and her first in almost six years, Barbara Paris takes on the tough task of dusting off ten classic standards and getting the jazz public to buy still another version of (fill in the blank). But Paris is one of those savvy singers who understand that these melodies are timeless and are the jazz vocalist's best friends. She takes each one of these gems and makes it her own for whatever time she takes to perform it. Each rendition by a good singer adds to the luster of these marvelous entries from the Great American Popular Songbook. And Paris adds her own layer of sheen. Paris is not endowed with a strong set of vocal chords. She comes from the Billie Holiday school where expressiveness, timing and phrasing are major priorities rather than powerful (as in muscular) delivery. "You Go to My head" is typical of the way Paris approaches her singing. Delivered with an almost gentle demeanor, Paris makes subtle adjustments in phrasing and timing that give her highly stylized interpretations a distinctive flavor.
Paris is joined by fellow Coloradian, veteran pianist Joe Bonner and the contrast between his piano and Paris' quiet voice is startling. Bonner is a brawny pianist, favoring florid harmonies. There's a hint of the dissonance in his playing probably coming from his years performing with such advanced jazz performers as Pharoah Sanders and Freddie Hubbard. At the same time, he can be elegantly romantic and melodic as on such cuts as "More Than You Know". There are times when one wishes Bonner would tone it down a bit. But overall, this album is a welcome return to the studio for Paris. Hopefully we won't have to wait as long for the next visit. Tour her web page at www.barbaraparis.com/home.html.