Akua Allrich: Live! Uniquely Standard (2012)
While the very organic "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," driving "Sinnerman" and Africa-humid "Afro Blue" provide the solid foundation of this set assembled from shows at Washington DC's Bohemian Caverns and THEARC Theater, it is Allich's reaching survey of just about everything else that is so provocative. Allrich opens the disc with the Donaldson/Kahn 1928 composition "My Baby Just Cares for Me," which became a signature song for Simone some 30 years later. Allrich retains a good bit of the pre-Depression era flavor of the song without sacrificing the power infused by Simone.
Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" is beautifully elegant and a sharp Juxtaposition to the carnal "Afro Blue." The contrast is as dizzying as it is brilliant. Allrich has the chops to sing whatever she wants, and further proves it on a bonfire "Black Coffee." Her instrumental support never interferes with the singer, providing a fecund soil in which to plant her vocal garden. Taken as a whole, this live recital is a very good jumping off point for those interested in modern jazz vocals and fans of the great Nina Simone. Allrich is a vocalist to watch. She may very well be the next big thing.
Track Listing: My Baby Just Cares for Me; Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood; I Wish You Love; Lush Life; Jol'Inkomo; Afro Blue; Wishful Thinking; Black Coffee;Sinnerman; (I'm Afraid) the Masquerade Is Over; (Outro) Fire/Seeline Woman.
Personnel: Akua Allrich: vocals; Kris Funn: bass; Janelle Gill: piano (1-7, 11); Kush Abadey: drums; Warren Wolf: piano (8-10); Samir Moulay: guitar (8- 10); Agyei Osei Akoto: congas (9).
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Hot Jazz