Mala Waldron: Always There (2006)
Waldron wisely chose an infectious up-tempo groove to open the album. In fact, "Whispers In The Wind" has a lot of Randy Crawford going for it (think "Street Life" of a few decades ago), and the instrumentation sounds pretty goodincluding her keyboards, while in a smooth jazz groove, and the guitar work of Steve Salerno. She also displays her skills at scatting on "Too Good For Words" before any of the lyrics begin. On "Ellie," Waldron gets a lengthier scatting opportunity, supported nicely by Salerno. The guitarist also shows that he is fully capable of providing rock-style playing on "Why (When I Say Goodbye)" and then enters a comfortable jazz mode on the next tune, "Can't Stop Thinking About You."
The eleven tracks are all Waldron originals, save for a reworked cover of The Doors' big late-1960s rock hit, "Light My Fire." Some of the tunes are better than others, but all are acceptable. Despite the fact that Waldron has all the skills to play and sing jazz, her goal at this time is to evoke comparisons with artists like Anita Baker, Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack. She does have a strong vocal presence that is totally appropriate for these tunes, and although she does make use of some melisma in her delivery, it is nowhere as evident as the wretched excess of just about all of the current crop of female R&B/hip-hop vocalists.
Track Listing: Whispers in The Wind; Because of You; Always There; Too Good For words; I Do Remember You; Ellie; Why; Can't Stop Thinking About You; Light My Fire; Proud Lion; Maybe It's Not So.
Personnel: Mala Waldron: vocals, piano/keyboards; Miriam Sullivan: bass; Steve Salerno: guitars; Michael "T.A." Thompson: drums, background vocals; Jim Clouse: additional pecussion (5).
Record Label: Soulful Sound
Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing