How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
With Use Me, Decatur, Georgia-based multi instrumentalist Amy Lee presents a collection of ten tunes that further solidify a connection between contemporary "light" jazz and R&B/soul/funk. Her new recording has all of the hallmarks that identify her music with the popular jazz stylevery precise production with multiple layers of electronically and acoustically generated sounds; tight, funky bass lines and other rhythm tracks that lock in a solid groove; and Lee's saxophone, full of soulful sounds inspired by the vocal inflections and styling of great blues and soul singers.
A further connection to her music as "instrumental soul," however, is perhaps best exemplified in that her repertoire draws directly upon two great sources of 1970s R&B/soul, Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder. The title cut is Lee's instrumental cover of the classic song "Use Me," recorded by Withers in 1972. She does a formidable job here covering the melodyso much so that you can almost hear her sax "singing" Withers' lyrics. Like a bookend, Lee chooses to close her recording with Stevie Wonder's "Too Shy to Stay." Her version is quite interesting and innovative, with the accompaniment of pedal steel guitar, which gives a haunting background to Lee's delicate yet throaty tenor saxophone.
Amy Lee is also a creative composer, having written six of the tunes on Use Me. Of the six, one tune that stands apart from the others is the bossa nova "Traz Da Lua." Sung in Portuguese by vocalist Alice Genereux, the piece has that romantic yet genteel, laid back, cool-as-an-evening-breeze approach that makes us fond of Brazilian music. Lee's flute solo, albeit brief, and her instrumental comments behind the vocals certainly continue the smooth, mellow vibe brought on by this tune. The Jamaican reggae rhythm-inspired piece "Brite Eyes" is also one that stands out to this listener. Lee also demonstrates her talents as a multi-instrumentalist, playing three different saxophones and trombone on the tune.
Amy Lee's Use Me is recommended for listeners who enjoy the funky yet smooth sounds of contemporary "light" jazz.
Track Listing: Use Me, Across The Water, Coming Home, In The Sun, Traz Da Lua, Why You Wanna, Mor To Love, One And One Makes Three, Brite Eyes, Too Shy To Say
Personnel: Amy Lee (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, flute, trombone), Sonny Emory (drums), Ronnie Garrett (bass), Darrell Smith (electric piano), Peter Meyer (guitar), Ralph MacDonald (percussion), Jim Mayer (fretless bass), John Raymond (guitar), Cooper Tisdale (guitar), Jack Ashford (tambourine), Alice Genereux (vocal), Geoff McBride (vocal), Nadirah Shakoor (background vocal), Roger Guth (drums), Tom Kennedy (upright bass), David Savage (organ), Doyle Grisham (pedal steel guitar)