Rebecca Parris: My Foolish Heart (2000)
Rebecca Parris gives a masters class in singing ballads very slow and very well.
Miles Davis once heard Shirley Horn perform a ballad that had been in his band's book for many years. He said in that sandpaper voice of his, "Man, you sing that so slow." On My Foolish Heart, Boston-native Rebecca Parris, provides nine studies in the slow ballad, all sung with a voice that is quite unforgettable.
Ms. Parris' voice is deep, not unlike that of actress Kathleen Turner (whom she also physically resembles). It is smoothly resonant reminding me of Johnny Hodges playing alto in the low register. In the jazz vocals realm, her voice most closely resembles Shirley Horn's, sans the cigarettes and 40 years experience (not implying that Ms. Parris is any kind of vocal slouch). Ms. Parris' selection of ballads is predictable, but her capability and delivery are not. She basically deconstructs and then reconstructs "Lover Man" and her "Body and Soul" reveals what Coleman Hawkin's must have been thinking during his solo of his 1939 recording of the same.
Ms. Parris' phrasing is perfectly elastic without being brassy. Her dynamic range and ear are sure. "Crazy He Calls Me" is taken at a very slow tempo, effectively conveying a tired sardonic sarcasm rather than defeat. The disc highlight is the closer, Tadd Dameron's "If Your could See Me Now." This piece death-defying in its tempo and is sung by Ms. Parris beautifully. Her support is tasteful with little soloing, choosing instead to showcase her considerable talent. John Mayall once remarked that the hardest music to play was a slow blues. I amend that to include the slow jazz ballad and Rebecca Parris performs them effortlessly.
Track Listing: My Foolish Heart; the Shadow of Your Smile; Lover Man; Yesterday I Heard the Rain; Never Let Me Go; When October Goes; Body and Soul; Crazy He Calls Me; If You Could See Me Now. (Total Time: 54:05
Personnel: Rebecca Parris: Vocals; George Mesterhazy: Guitar, Keyboards; Scott Steed: Bass; Matt Gordy: Drums; Paul McWilliams: Piano.
Record Label: KOCH International Jazz