Lisa Lindsley: Every Time We Say Goodbye (2011)
The jazz vocals standard repertoire is a durable one because it is populated with well-conceived and finely-crafted songs from the Great American Songbook. Of equal importance are the song's lyrics, cleverly constructed, and the melody, hook-filled. This song collection exists as a mountain to be climbed by any singer who believes him- or herself capable, willing and worthy. It is an assemblage of songs that has flooded the vocals market so that it is hard to separate the truly exceptional from the merely okay because of an unfavorable signal-to-noise ratio.
One way to separate jazz singing wheat from chaff is the presence of elegant simplicity. It is this quality that Lisa Lindsley's debut, Every Time We Say Goodbye, has in copious amounts, due to the fortunate intersection of a music savvy/recording naive singer in Lindsley; the availability of empathetic support in pianist George Mesterhazy and bassist Fred Randolf; and the presence of emotional challenge in the singer's life. The result is a sonic alchemy that is simple and pure a quicksilver and equally elusive.
Lindsley comes to singing later in life than most of her peers. This benefits her in that she has a lifetime of experiences through which to sing these familiar tunes, revealing new elements in the songs. She sings them simply, presenting the melodies in a relaxed and listener-friendly way. Her exquisitely balanced voice is what gives Lindsley license for such straight and compelling interpretation, interpretation that would be banal and boring in less talented voices. Lindsley's take on Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You" is so perfect, and Mesterhazy's arrangement and support so certain and nuanced, that it is hard to believe that such a performance level can be sustained for an entire disc.
But Lindsley manages to do exactly that. "The Very Thought of You," "It's Only A Paper Moon" and the title song all are delivered as in "Nearness," evenly measured, cool with a slight finish of melancholy. Mesterhazy and Randolf fit hand-in-glove in their accompaniment and encouragement. Mesterhazy's experience with another noted singer, the late Shirley Horn, is very evident as he sprinkles all of his playing with the blues; but it is only a distilled whiff that never overpowers the direction of the pieces.
There is always room for more standards recordings, specifically when they are as finely forged as Every Time We Say Goodbye.
Track Listing: The Nearness of You; Don't Explain; Alice in Wonderland; The Very Thought of You; It's Only a Paper Moon; Everytime We Say Goodbye; Why Don't You Do Right; The Girl from Ipanema.
Personnel: Lisa Lindsley: vocals; George Mesterhazy: piano, melodica, keyboards; Fred Randolf: bass.
Record Label: Self Produced