Maybe it's the water or the climate. Whatever the reason, the Northwest seems to have more than its share of superior vocalists. For example, the exceptional Rebecca Kilgore and Nancy King in Portland and, further north in Seattle, we have Greta Matassa and Kelley Johnson, amongst many other wonderful artists. This is stellar company to which we now add Lynn Bush, a worthy and welcome addition to the cadre of superior Northwest-based singers.
Bush had the good sense to cut her debut CD, Still Life with the trio New Stories, arguably the finest rhythm section in Seattle. Pianist Marc Seales, bassist Doug Miller and drummer, John Bishop have worked together for many years and have a strong group identity and are highly respected by both Seattle jazz players and listeners. This trio has been the first-call unit for many noted musicians and singers, such as saxophonists Don Lanphere, Joe Henderson and singer Mark Murphy, just to cite a few names. The New Stories Trio support Bush with much sensitivity and obviously love adding her to their impressive resumes. The joy she feels singing with these musicians is likewise very evident.
Like many of the better singers, Lynn Bush has an impeccable repertoire. For her debut she chose some Mancini, Mandel and some Kurt Weill. But two songs, both ballads, immediately grabbed my attention. One is a very obscure piece titled "What a Way to Go.” ("We may last a lifetime/or only catch a glow/but I want you, I need you, I love you/what a way to go.") It is a marvelous slow-beat ballad with words and music by June Tonkin. Other singers should add this well-written torch song to their repertoire. But right now this little-known gem belongs to Lynn Bush, and she sings it with an after hours feline grace that is sexy and compelling. She brings an erotic glow to the song and I imagine that Ms Tonkin is thrilled with Lynn Bush’s interpretation. The other ballad is the noted standard "Lazy Afternoon," with music by Jerome Moross and poetic imagery by John Latouche. Bush sings this unusual song with a Shaker-like simplicity. Her uncomplicated phrasing and cool timbre give Latouche's lyrics a clear-headed beauty that is the hallmark of a performer with few pretensions. You hear every susurru, you hear the grass as it grows, and you see every fat pink cloud. Marc Seales’ piano accompaniment is most imaginative. It seems to gently brush the nap of the song in a soft-focus approach that perfectly matches Bush’s voice.
Each of the ten songs is perfectly delivered. I am partial to her ballads but Bush can also play with time like a yo-yo when it is appropriate. She is the complete jazz singer. Her voice invites the listener into an emotional world that is mesmerizing. If there is justice in this world, Lynn Bush will have many CDs for us to enjoy. I’m already looking forward to her next one. I highly recommend Still Life.
Personnel: LYNN BUSH vocals
MARC SEALES piano
DOUG MILLER bass
JOHN BISHOP drums