Shawnn Monteiro: To Carmen with Love (2012)
Monteiro and co-producer/pianist Mike Renzi combed through more than thirty McRae albums and found a group of songs that the singer recorded more than once, indicating some special significance. For her homage, Monteiro performs these very same songs, primarily from The Great American Songbook, her hushed and earthy vocals creating a unique interpretation of McRae's preferred standards. With a core trio of Renzi, bassist Dave Zinno and drummer Steve Langone, Monteiro begins the tribute with "Old Devil Moon," scatting and swinging over devilish instrumental accompaniment.
The classic "Yesterdays" and Cole Porter's "I Concentrate on You" seem to find an especially sweet place with the singer, who delivers two emotional statements. McRae performed "Old Black Magic," "Nice Work If You Can Get It" and "I Have the Feeling I've Been Here Before" often, and here, Monteiro treats these standards more than well. Bobby Troup's "Your Looking At Me" and Melissa Manchester's "Come In From The Rain" are but two of the many soft tunes the singer takes to heart here.
Monteiro continues swinging through the standard repertoireloose and playful on "Mean To Me," bluesy on "Miss Brown (To You), and sultry on the Kurt Weil/Ogden Nash staple "Speak Low." The vocalist closes the set on the Eden Ahbez's Latin-tinged "Nature Boy," introduced by Zinno and completing a tribute to one of the greatest ladies of jazz. Regardless of theme or special circumstance, To Carmen with Love is one of the better jazz vocal recordings around, and captures a superb performance from the classy Monteiro. Renzi and the trio also deserve mention for their marvelous support, providing the sparkle that helps Monteiro to shine.
Track Listing: Old Devil Moon; Yesterdays; I Concentrate On You; Old Black Magic; You're Looking At Me; Mean To Me; Come In From The Rain; Miss Brown (To You); Speak Low; Nice Work If You Can Get It; I Have The Feeling I've Been Here Before; Nature Boy.
Personnel: Shawnn Monteiro: vocals; Mike Renzi: piano; Dave Zinno: bass; Steve Langone: drums.
Record Label: Whaling City Sound