Jacintha: Jacintha Goes to Hollywood (2008)
Singer Jacintha (Abisheganaden) was born in Singapore to Chinese/Sri Lankan parents in 1957. She eventually began recording, and established a reputation as both a singer and actor in Southeast Asia. Signing a contract with Groove Note Records in 1999, she became a more familiar musical name to North American listeners for the first time..
Jacintha Goes to Hollywood is an easy listening jazz vocal album with the studied influence of singers like Julie London and Astrud Gilberto. With a few exceptions it's a fine choice for a dinner party or relaxation. If these descriptions don't meet the criteria of jazz-influenced vocalists, there are other musical reasons to stay tuned. The presentation of the material is immeasurably enhanced by a very talented Los Angeles ensemble that raises the bar.
Perhaps Jacintha Goes to the Hollywood is not entirely homage to the films of the USA. "On Days Like These," a Black/Jones composition originally sung by Matt Munro for the British film The Italian Job (1969) is an unlikely choice to open the album, as opposed to the following Bacharach/David "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," one of the most oversaturated tunes of all time.. The tune, from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), is given a surprisingly entertaining take, with solos from guitarist Anthony Wilson and organist Larry Goldings breathing new life into this tired old tune after Jacintha's vocal. Alan and Marilyn Bergman/Michel Legrand's "Windmills of Your Mind," from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) which won an Academy Award for Best Songbegins as the expected slow ballad, but then picks up with Wilson's guitar work, and becomes even more up-tempo for Ron Stout's trumpet solo.
Other tunes follow in a diverting fashion, including Francis Lai/Pierre Barouh's hit, "A Man and A Woman," given a retro feel from the group, and Evans/Livingston's "Que Sera Sera," from Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), with Goldings providing a Gallic accordion accompaniment alongside John Campbell's vibes. Elsewhere, saxophonist Rickey Woodard adds his own touch, while bassist Darek Oles and drummer Joe La Barbera mesh very well as a rhythm section, either with Goldings or, on most selections, pianist Ishkandar Ismail.
Other tunes with little or nothing to do with Hollywood films have been pasted into the album. The Mamas & The Papas' "California Dreaming" was used in the Chinese film The Chung King Express (1994), while the Billie Holiday-associated "Easy Living," written by Rainger/Robin, was used in Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974). Having coincidentally seen Chinatown just a few weeks ago and not even recalling the presence of the song in that film, perhaps this is all carping about the finished product; still, it makes the album more of an artificial tribute than intended, cheapening the concept as if there weren't enough good compositions from American Cinema.
Track Listing: On Days Like These; Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head; Alfie; Windmills of Your Mind; California Dreaming; A Man and a Woman; Easy Living; Que Sera Sera; The Summer Knows.
Personnel: Jacintha: vocals; Iskander Ismail: piano; Larry Goldings: Hammond B-3, piano (2), accordion (8); Darek Oles: bass; Joe LaBarbera: drums; Anthony Wilson: guitar; Ron Stout: trumpet; Ricky Woodard: saxophone; Aaron Serfaty: percussion; John Campbell: vibraphone; Howlett Smith: whistler (1).