Jacintha: Lush Life (2002)
This singer from Singapore grows with each album she cuts, and she continues her development on her third for the Groove Note label. Jacintha has for the first time added a bevy of silky strings to the instrumental backdrop on some tracks to augment the contributions of rhythm, flugelhorn and accordion. The program is made up OF well known standards. But they are given a reworking by the fresh arrangements of pianist Bill Cunliffe and certainly by the husky, smokey, sensual vocal styling of Jacintha who is emerging AS a leading interpreter of romantic ballads from the Great American Popular Songbook. While her version of "Black Coffee" won't make one forget the inimitable recordings by Peggy Lee and Carmen McRae, it certainly holds its own with these two definitive performances. She gets sympathetic support by Cunliffe on piano and his fellow members of the rhythm section, Darek Oles and Joe LaBarbera. "September Song" has the same backing with the extra added attraction of Dmitri Matheny's smooth flugelhorn. Jacintha also shows that on those track, she is in control, rather than the other way around. On such cuts as a lovely "When the World Was Young", her voice floats atop the string accompaniment rather than having to fight it. This happy situation is due in no small part to Cunliffe's arranging skills. Even the 1933 over blown "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams" gets a new look from Jacintha and is a perfect example of her ability to insert just the right level of emotional commitment to a song to bring out its best. She never lets herself become cloying and maudlin which is easy to do on an album made up of slow songs of yearning and passion.
This album of romantic ballads is one of the best to hit the streets so far this year and is highly recommended.
Track Listing: The Boulevard of Broken Dreams; Black Coffee; Summertime; Lush Life; Manha de Carneval; The Shadow of Your Smile; When the World Was Young; September Song; Harlem Nocturne; Smile
Personnel: Jacintha - Vocal; Bill Cunliffe - Piano/Arranger; Darek Oles - Bass; Joe LaBarbera - Drums; Dmitri Matheny - Flugelhorn; Anthony Wilson - Guitar; Frank Marocco - Accordion; Twelve Strings