Vocalist Beverly Lewis does not worry about the particulars of proper jazz vocals on All Shades of Blues, because she is also a blues singer, and the two vocal styles often have different agendas. Lewis, however, has but one agenda: stepping up to the microphone and belting out whatever song she is singing con brio and in full command. Couple this inhibition with a very fine band led by guitarist/husband John Fifield, and a brush fire is sure to start and spread.
Right out of the chute, Lewis goes on the prowl with Denise LaSalle's warning shot, "Someone Else is Steppin' In," fueled by Fifield's slinky, full-throated slide guitar. Having established her blues bona fides, Lewis moves on to Joe Zawinul's soul-jazz standard "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," singing at full throttle. Bobby Charles' "The Jealous Kind" is played with a slight country tinge, Fifield's solid slide guitar tempering the piece as a country-blues hybrid.
The pairing of "Every Day I have The Blues" and "Fine and Mellow" is as inspired as its slick arrangement, burning intensely and scorching all behind it, making it a great set closer. The Miles Davis/Oscar Brown Jr. "All Blues" provides Lewis an excellent jazz vehicle with a blues subtext, as the singer negotiates the piece with precision and class, never overdoing it in the technical department. Buddy Johnson's "Since I Fell for You," provides an Etta James vibe, taking the edge off the disc's hard blues.
But that is only for a second, because "It's Love Baby (24 Hours a Day)" follows, and is a barnburner that takes full example of Randy Singer's Little Walter Jacobs-informed harmonica playing. All Shades of Blues should bring Lewis some much deserved attention: her forceful singing and robust delivery have genuine soul; her band is tight; and her repertoire solid.
Someone Else Steppin' In; Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; The Jealous Kind;
Everyday I Have the Blues/Fine and Mellow; All Blues; Since I Fell for You; It's Love Baby (24 Hours a Day); Mad About Him , Sad Without Him Blues; Love Me Like a Man; Howlin' Dog Blues.
Beverly Lewis: vocals; John Fifield: guitars; Gabriel Vivas: electric and
acoustic bass; Goran Rista: drums (2, 3, 6, 7,9) Lee Levin: drums (1, 4,
5, 8); Paul Banman: keyboards (1-7); Doug Emery:
keyboards (9); Sammy Figueroa: percussion (2); Randy Singer:
harmonica (1, 6, 7); Teddy Mulet: brass (5, 8); David Fernandez: reeds
(2, 4, 7, 9) Gabe Vales: bass (3).