With her clear-spoken alto voice, Sally Stark honors the memory of Maxine Sullivan here in a program that includes swinging fun and passionate ballads. Songs by Fats Waller, Johnny Mercer and other favorite composers from a bygone era give her performance a complete and frank perspective.
“Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now” gets a slow, meaningful interpretation. Like the song’s originator, Stark takes her time with the melody and brings the listener aboard gradually. Like Maxine Sullivan, she gives the listener a sucker punch on the chin that comes when it’s least expected. Inch by inch, phrase by phrase, the song wraps you around its lyrics and its tune.
”Harlem Butterfly” moves slowly with a lyrical presence that oozes a love for the classic American song. Stark delivers the anthem with a purity that belies her love of the simpler arts. Songs such as these need no embellishment. They’re portrayed here with natural charms. “Loch Lomond,” as Sullivan preferred it, comes to us in all its natural simplicity.
Small group swing music, in general, remains a natural experience. Here, Stark is joined by solos from trumpet, guitar, and saxophone. Each swings lightly in sync with the singer’s gentle approach, as piano, bass and drums provide a sturdy foundation. We’re reminded, as Stark sings out gracefully with sincere thoughts:
The moon is shining, now, that’s a good sign.
Cling to me closer, say you’ll be mine.
Remember, darling, we won’t see it shine,
A hundred years from today.
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Personnel: Sally Stark- vocals; Mike Abene- piano; Chip Jackson- bass; Dennis Mackrel- drums; James Chirillo- guitar; Michael Hashim- soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Warren Vach