Julie Kelly: Into the Light (2001)
Julie Kelly is a mature singer with a well settled singing style bounded by elegance, wit and lyrical sensitivity. The years have taken some toll on this bright as crystal like voice, there's a little strain with the higher notes and they aren't held as long as they probably used to be. But this relatively minor problem is swept away by her cultivated, knowing treatment of the words.
This release builds on the solid foundation of her two previous albums and is a strong testament to her artistry. She engages in what would be called risk taking for a less experienced and knowledgeable singer, but is now like water sliding off a duck's back for Ms Kelly. The selections she chose for this album also reflect her experience. They are a diverse set from a diverse group of composers. Old favorites are represented by such tunes as "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" - - aided and abetted with an arrangement featuring Jody Burnett's richly hued cello - - "I've Got the World on a String" where Tom Warrington's bass is prominent. But there are also tunes from contemporaries like Alan Broadbent/Dave Frishberg and Sunny Wilkinson/Brian Lynch. One of the very entertaining tracks on the set is Sonny Stitt's "Sonny's Bounce" where Kelly has added lyrics. Jeff Clayton shows up with a forceful and vigorous sax engaging in give and take with guitarist Larry Koonse. This song is also the vehicle for a rare Kelly foray into scat as she joyously scampers along the melody line with Koonse and Clayton. Everyone's clearly having a lot of fun with this one. The old saw that good lyrics sound like poetry put to music is given meaning with Kelly's interpretation of "His Eyes, Her Eyes" written for the film, Thomas Crown Affair.
Those backing Kelly provide stellar support. But Bill Cunliffe's accommodating, but sometimes probing piano is a key to the quality of this session. Cunliffe is moving into that upper tier of accompanists reserved for only the very best like Hank Jones, Jimmy Rowles, Tommy Flanagan and Ellis Larkins. Throughout "Hooray for Love" he quotes Francis Craig's piano chords from the huge 1947 number 1 pop hit, "Near You".
Into the Light is a relaxed 55 minutes of musicianship of the highest order and is accordingly highly recommended.
Track Listing: Love for Sale; Hooray for Love; The Folks Who Live on the Hill; Flor de Liz (Upside Down); Don't Be That Way; Into the Light (One for Mogie); Heart's Desire; Sonny's Bounce (Blues Steps); Kisses; I've Got the World on a String; His Eyes, Her Eyes; They Say It's Spring
Personnel: Julie Kelly - Vocal; Bill Cunliffe - Piano; Larry Koonse - Guitar; Tom Warrington- Bass; Joe LaBarbera - Drums; Jeff Clayton - Tenor Saxophone; Holly Hoffman - Flute; Brad Dutz - Percussion; Jody Burnett - Cello