Amanda Carr: Common Thread: Amanda Carr and the Kenny Hadley Big Band (2009)
If vocalist Amanda Carr were a place, she would probably be Rodeo Drive, Chicago's Magnificent Mile, or New York's elegant 57th Street. With Common Thread, she validates the fact that she has the vocal elegance, phrasing sophistication, premier jazz chops, and the sheer class to back up that hypothesis.
Complemented beautifully here by Kenny Hadley's cooking Big Band (comprised of some of Boston's finest "beans"), Carr embarks on a savvy, swinging tour of some of the better and not-so-well-known tunes from the Great American Songbook. The result is simply classic.
What is interesting is that absolutely every element of this CD is superb, from the vocals and charts to the solos, ensembles and production. Not only does Carr mesh incredibly well with the big band behind her, but, the wonderful, intelligent arrangements from Bob Freedman, Adi Yeshaya, trumpeter Rick Hammett, and Rich Lowell provide a well-balanced landscape for Carr and the band to absolutely sparkle. Drummer Hadley drives and leads the effort throughout with taste and power.
The CD offers 15 selections, including two instrumentals which showcase Hadley and his crew"Broadway," and the tasty "I Waited for You," featuring Hammett. There seems to be a very Frank Sinatra/Nelson Riddle/Billy May classic feel to this session from the get-go ("It's A Big Wide Wonderful World," "They All Laughed") and throughout. Vocalist and ensemble work perfectly together over appropriately inventive charts ("The Song Is Ended," "There's a Small Hotel") that add new flavors to these stellar standards. Everyone seems to get into the swinging act here, soloing impressively. Carr and Hadley give generously so everyone involved has a chance to shine. And shine they do as there is certainly enough talent to go around.
Carr's vocal chops run the gamut from silky seductive smooth ("Don'tcha Go 'Way Mad," "I Could Have Told You," "Time on My Hands"), to big band powerhouse ("No Moon At All" "There's a Small Hotel"). Her phrasing is pure jazz and her sense of pitch is perfect. She is well-balanced with her outstanding supporting cast here from both a musical and a pure recording session standpoint.
Amanda Carr and Kenny Hadley deserve significant credit for pulling together a truly successful vocal-big band effort in the classic manner. There's nothing bland or boring here, only a chanteuse and a big band and absolutely first class musicianship.
A swinging, superb effort.
Track Listing: It's a Big Wide Wonderful World; They All Laughed; Something Wonderful Happens in Summer; Don'tcha Go 'Way Mad; Time on My Hands; Broadway; I Understand; There's a Small Hotel; Just You, Just Me; I Could Have Told You; The Song is Ended; I Waited for You; How Am I to Know; No Moon at All; The End of a Love Affair.
Personnel: Amanda Carr: vocals; Dave Chapman: soprano, alto sax, clarinet; Mark Pinto: alto sax, flute, clarinet (1, 3-5, 8-14); Jerry Vejmola: tenor sax, flute, clarinet; Arnie Krakowsky: tenor sax, clarinet; Ken Reid: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Jeff Galindo: trombone; Jon Garniss: trombone; George Murphy: trombone; Tim Kelly: trombone; Rick Hammett: trumpet and flugelhorn; Lin Biviano: trumpet and flugelhorn; Scott Degburn: trumpet and flugelhorn; Pat Stout: trumpet and flugelhorn; John Wilkins: guitar; Bronek Suchanek: bass; Kenny Hadley: drums.