Stephanie Nakasian: Thrush Hour (2007)
Arranged in more or less chronological fashion, the album is almost like a compilation of the years in which these singers made their respective marks upon the world of vocal jazz. The contributions of Nakasian's septet are invaluable in establishing the settings on Thrush Hour, providing the feel of a post-War Swing sessionand even earlier, for the material from vocalists including Bessie Smith ("A Good Man Is Hard To Find") and Ethel Waters ("Guess Who's In Town").
Nakasian is finely detailed in her recreation of the styles of vocal performances including Betty Roche's 1952 bebop take on "Take the 'A' Train," with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and the Anita O'Day-isms on "What Is This Thing Called Love." She also seems to have a knack for blues numbers like Helen Humes' "Million Dollar Secret" and the opening "A Good Man Is Hard To Find," both of which feature the band riffing behind her.
What is, perhaps, most interesting, is the omission of singer Maxine Sullivan as one of the "honorees" on this album, since Nakasian's style seems to come closest to the her. Although crediting "A Hundred Years from Today" to Lee Wiley and "Goody Goody" to Helen Ward, the influence of Maxine Sullivan on these songs seems more apparent. Nitpicking, perhaps, but the only fly in the ointment on this fine tribute.
Track Listing: A Good Man Is Hard to Find; Guess Who's In Town; Rockin' Chair; A Hundred Years From Today; It Don't Mean A Thing; Lullaby of the Leaves; Goody Goody; All Of Me; What Is This Thing Called Love; Moments Like This; Take The "A" Train; Day Dream; I Cried For You; Maybe; Too Late Now; Peel Me A Grape; Blue Gardenia; Street of Dreams; All That Jazz.
Personnel: Stephanie Nakasian: vocals; Hod O'Brien: piano; Randy Sandke: trumpet; Tom Hamilton: tenor sax; John Jensen: trombone; Howie Collins: guitar; Steve Gilmore: bass; Bill Goodwin: drums.
Record Label: V.S.O.P. Records