Jazz can only endure so many vocal performances that take the art to some interesting and even ground-breaking outer reaches before things must correct themselves with a release or two that are straight down the middle, reminding us how we got there to begin with. Janine Gilbert-Carter fills the bill with a no-nonsense recital of standards that should help any jazz listener understand what Miles Davis was trying to say when he played, "On Green Dolphin Street.
Gilbert-Carter is backed by a guitar-piano quintet with a reeds front. Her voice is soulful, full of Church, capable of filling sonic space with an aural humidity that is honest what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Nowhere is this better displayed than on Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love, and Etta James' theme, "At Last. On both, Paul Carr's full-bodied tenor caresses Gilbert-Carter's phrasing, while soloing with great gusto and the occasional crack, always keeping things real. Guitarist Steve Abshire adds tasty chording and six-string filigree. Pianist Chris Grasso can lay the blues on, having certainly listened to Red Garland's "...Someone to Love and James' "At Last.
The bawdy blues is reserved for sassy Denise LaSalle's "Someone Else is Steppin' In'. Abshire hits his comping stride, compelling the band to greater and greater intensity. These pieces are late in the recital, the earlier positions reserved for ballad, a trinity of which make the fulcrum of the recording. "Green Dolphin Street is delivered with punch and panache. Carr trades his tenor for the wicked soprano, which he guides serpentine through the standard. "Street is followed by a sprite "All of Me. Grasso's bouncing intro and deftly light touch disguises the virility of his solo, single notes ringing like a cross between Horace Silver and Gene Harris. The triad of ballads conclude with Leon Russell's "A Song for You. Gilbert-Carter waxes emotively, propelled by Chris Grasso's simple accompaniment.
A Song for You is a meat and potatoes jazz vocals recording, sung by an accomplished artist showing us all how these songs are to be sung.
There Is No Greater Love; What A Difference A Day Made; Don't Go To Strangers; Candy; Here's To Life; Green Dolphin Street; All Of Me; A Song For You; Please Send Me Someone To Love; Someone Else Is Stepping In; When I Fall In Love; At Last.
Janine Gilbert-Carter: vocals; Steve Abshire: guitar; Clyde Adams: drums; Paul Carr: tenor and soprano saxophones; Gavin Fallow: bass; Chris Grasso: piano.