Talk of the Town
raises an interesting question for the jazz critic and consumer: how to evaluate a musical endeavor that so accurately, so skillfully, and so consciously resurrects a earlier stylistic periods that the notes seem to ring out from another era. Cheryl Bentyne’s surety of voice, the precision and skill of her accompaniment, and the professionalism of the album effectively bars criticism. While in other art forms Bentyne’s adherence to form might raise objections, within jazz where revivalism, revisitation, and resurrection are not only common, but accepted trends, any negative evaluation of this conservatism seems merely a matter of taste.
Famous for her work with the Manahattan Transfer, Bentyne here explores a repertoire of classic jazz tunes, including standards like Gus Kahn’s “Love Me or Leave Me,” Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To,” and Rodgers and Harts’ oft-visited “It Might As Well Be Spring.” In addition, Bentyne offers a few surprises, such as the challenging and excellently performed Thelonious Monk composition, “Little Butterfly,” and “Still Good Friends,” for which Bentyne wrote the lyrics. Bentyne’s refined readings and pleasant tone lend each piece a certain poise, while her exuberance infuses an overall sense of celebration and positivism to even the most melancholic selections.
For those interested in a picturesque, well-executed survey of jazz song performed by a vocalist well-versed in the material and clearly interested in maintaining the traditions historical continuity, Talk of the Town will surely please.
Personnel: Cheryl Bentyne: Vocals;
Kenny Barron, Corey Allen: Piano;
Corey Allen: Organ;
John Patitucci: Bass;
Don Alias: Percussion;
David "Fathead" Newman:Tenor Sax;
Chuck Mangione: Flugelhorn;
Mark Kibble and Alvin Chea: Background Vocals.