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Linda Purl: Alone Together

Jim Santella By

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Linda Purl has described her vocal performances as "standards in a jazz marinade." Taking the rough edges off her songs and presenting them in an expressive yet articulate manner, she tells stories with all the experience that her storied acting career has provided. Purl is noted for her stage and screen performances that include dozens of film roles over the last twenty-five years. Acting roles such as Fonzie’s early 1980s girlfriend Ashley Pfister of Happy Days, Matlock ’s resourceful daughter Charlene or, more recently, the lead character’s mom, Dr. Ruth Young, in the remake of Mighty Joe Young, have allowed Purl the freedom to express herself before an audience. The same takes place on Alone Together, where she works comfortably with a studio orchestra armed with powerhouse arrangements from Ron Abel and Rick Knutsen. The instrumental voicing infuses elements to contrast with Purl’s subtle vocal delivery. They’re the "marinade," or catalyst for her songs. Bluesy guitar interludes, clear open trumpet hollers, suave tenor sax musings, wailing alto saxophone cries, and floating "Glenn Miller" trombone melodies clear the air and make way for the singer’s soft-spoken delivery. Unfortunately, these soloists aren’t identified in the album’s liner notes. Such is the lot of many talented studio jazz artists who supply hour after hour after hour of dedicated performance and fail to receive proper credit. These arrangements in particular employ the brass and saxophone sections with swirling relays that hand off the action from one to the other and set the stage in support of the singer.

Linda Purl’s program of ballads and other familiar standards is presented with due respect to the material. The title track has singer and big band traveling two separate rhythmic paths (together), with Purl singing a straightforward melody while the ensemble romps in syncopated fashion. The end product is quite refreshing. Purl’s pitch accuracy, natural breath control, clear recognizable tone, and storytelling nature assist in making things work out just right. "Nice and Easy" is presented loose, with a blues feeling, and with a brief scat singing session at the close. "Teach Me Tonight" comes across with fervor; a seductive cabaret voice backed by a powerful band. The contrast and variety of the session enhance her performance and make Linda Purl a welcome surprise among today’s jazz singers.


Track Listing: Our Day Will Come; This Girl

Personnel: Linda Purl- vocals accompanied by a full studio orchestra.

Title: Alone Together | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Varese Sarabande


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