Ella Gahnt & The Dr. Jay Trio: Immaculate Union (2001)
Philadelphia vocalist Ella Gahnt offers thirteen tracks on Immaculate Union, which suffers from inconsistent programming. She is supported by a piano trio under the direction of Dr. Jay Fluellen. The album begins in a promising fashion with an effective mid tempo version of the Rogers & Hart "This Can't Be Love" and moves into "Schizophrenic Love Medley," which consists of What Is This Thing Called Love/On Green Dolphin Street/Love Is A Many Splendored Thing. A nice version of the Gordon & Warren standard "The More I See You" follows. So for the first ten minutes, you're enjoying what could be a pretty lively group at your local jazz club.
What ensues is a series of five ballads in a row and, with the exception of the Sting hit "Every Breath You Take," they are all originals. On the Sting composition, Gahnt slows it down to a ballad and alters the melody line—not unattractively, either—so that it bears little resemblence to the rock version of the song. The remaining songs are either written or co-written by Gahnt or by her husband Leon Mitchell. There is a similarity to these songs and while some are more attractive than others, the programming of these tracks into a twenty two minute stretch is excessive. These compositions bear a bit of a R&B-"Quiet Storm" feel to them and are of the sort that might appear on an album by someone like Dianne Reeves. The final five tracks feature the piano trio only and while they perform well on five original compositions, I'm puzzled by the placement of this segment also. It's almost as if this section was tacked on to the album as an afterthought.
Perhaps this first listening caught me on a bad day, but I felt like I was fighting off the effects of being bombarded by the work of a producer who could have made this into an much more user-friendly showcase for Ella Gahnt and her supporting musicians.
Track Listing: This Can't Be Love, Schizophrenic Love Medley, The More I See You, To Lady, Every Breath You Take, Oh So Blue, Love's Labour Lost, Hold Me, Dreams of Monk, Toward the Blue, The Picture Element, Loyda's Song, Vicious Cycle
Personnel: Ella Gahnt, vocals; Dr.Jayh Fluellen, piano; Micah Jones, bass; Tony Deangelis, drums