How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Canada has always been a mother lode for talented jazz artists. This time it's young Emilie-Claire Barlow with her first album. She's backed by the Barlow Group which has been together since 1999, supplemented on some tracks by two of Canada's veteran jazz musicians, Moe Koffman and Guido Basso. While this is a tribute album as the title indicates, the honors are spread among individuals who have made a variety of contributions to the art of music, singers and non-singers alike. This makes for an eclectic play list offering swing, Brazilian and ballads all of which Barlow and the group handle with class and aplomb.
Barlow is a true jazz singer. Not limiting herself to stating the lyrics, she works hard to have her voice be part of the ensemble. The full flavor of her vocal endeavors is heard on such tunes as a wildly swinging "Air Mail Special" (quoting from tunes associated with Ella Fitzgerald) and the Annie Ross/Wardell Gray vocalese anthem, "Twisted". The result is an exciting and dazzling presentation. Barlow sets aside scat for a sweet rather than dissolute rendition of "Lush Life". This is part of a Strayhorn medley that is highlighted by trumpet and trombone solos on "Chelsea Bridge" by Messrs. Basso and Russ Little, respectively. The medley also showcases the recently departed Moe Koffman's alto on "Take the "A" Train" with Barlow chipping in with some more Ella Fitzgerald like scatting.
Barlow has all the equipment for a fine career as a singer. She has a good feel for what she sings, effective wordless vocalizing technique, which she shouldn't let dominate her presentation, and good taste in what she selects to sing. This album with the best of both vocalizing and ensemble playing is recommended. Visit Emilie-Claire and the group at their web site at www.thebarlowgroup.com.
Track Listing: Medley: Air Mail Special/It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got that Swing*; Aguas de Marco; Twisted#; La Belle Dame Sans Regret; Strayhorn Medley*#: Lush Life/Chelsea Bridge/Take the "A" Train; Summer Song; De Flor Em Flor (from Flower to Flower); Spain; Jobim Medley#: Dindi/Zingaro/Desafinado; Moon Indigo
Personnel: Emilie-Claire Barlow - Vocals/Percussion; Moe Koffman - Alto Sax*; Vern Dorge - Clarinet/Alto Sax; Perry White - Baritone sax; Dave Dunlop, Ray Podhornik - Trumpet; Guido Basso#, Steve McDade - Trumpet/Flugelhorn; Russ Little, Terry Promane - Trombone; Rob Plitch - Guitar; Tom Szczesniak - Piano; Brian Barlow - Drums/Percussion/Shaker/Piano; Scott Alexander - Bass; John Johnson - Soprano Sax; John Johnson - Tenor & Soprano Sax/Clarinet; Bob Leonard - Bass Clarinet/Baritone Sax