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With every smile is a story. Singer Antoinette Montague explores this concept with Behind the Smile, a collection of 13 songs that represent things that have influenced the smiles in her life.
A native of Newark, New Jersey, Montague has performed at a variety of venues, including Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Jazzmobile's Summer Breeze concert series and the Zebra Room in Harlem's Lenox Lounge. Accompanying her on this effort are woodwind player Bill Easley, pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington - Vocals.
"Behind the Smile," written by Montague with musical notation by Bertha Hope, is a sassy, blues-flavored selection. Easley solos on saxophone, complemented by Millerwho follows with a solo of his ownand the Washingtons. "I love your style; you stole my heart," Montague sings, with a flare reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald but with her own vocal imprint.
Easley plays clarinet on "Give Your Mama a Smile," where the rhythm section is cool and relaxed behind Montague's charming lead. Montague and the band deliver a jazz lounge rendition of Marvin Gaye's hit, "What's Going On." During the middle break, Easley covers the vocal chant on saxophone while Montague sings lyrics that aren't in the original recording. The band's ad-lib during the fade adds to the uniqueness of this arrangement.
Several of the songs chosen for Behind the Smile are from genres other than jazz, including blues and pop. However, the arrangements by Montague and Miller serve as an example of how well music can be adapted to a jazz context.
Track Listing: Behind the Smile; I Hadn't Anyone Till You; Give Your Mama One Smile; Ever Since the One I Love's Been Gone; What's Going On; The Song Is You; I'd Rather Have a Memory Than a Dream; Lost in Meditation; Get Ready; Summer Song; Somewhere in the Night; Meet Me at No Special Place; 23rd Psalm.
Personnel: Antoinette Montague: vocals; Bill Easley: saxophone, flute, clarinet; Mulgrew Miller: piano; Peter Washington: bass; Kenny Washington: drums.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.