Always in possession of impressive technique and a powerful voice, singer Trudy Kerr brings to her third album greater assurance, more sophisticated phrasing and interpretative qualities gained through experience. She has also moved away from that Chaka Khan approach to singing which characterized earlier recordings. Despite her strong voice, she doesn't overdo it as she moves from up tempo enthusiasm to husky torch singing. Listen to "That Old Black Magic" which starts out just above a whisper but throughout moves up and down the dynamics scale. The same is true for "I Get along without You Very Well" as Kerr works with the drummer who uses cymbals and rolls to underscore the musical message she is making with the lyrics. Nice job. It puts a burden on the listener to stay tuned in. Miss a measure or two and you'll miss an inflection, a slight change of tempo, an unusual accent. Kerr respects the words, turning to scatting infrequently. On those tunes when it seems she is about to launch into a scat, she teases and backs away. Another feature of the album are the unique arrangements. Unfortunately no credit for that good work is given. Nevertheless, because this is an album of practically all standards, it was important that the arrangements avoid well trod interpretative paths. This is accomplished through the interplay of Kerr with the musicians, for instance between her and Geoff Gascoyne's bass and Sebastiaan de Krom's drums on I've Got the World on a String". Kerr also engages with some clever vocal noodling to end the tune.
But it's the presence of one of the top jazz pianist on today's scene, Mulgrew Miller, which is the icing that makes this CD especially appetizing. His dedication to the music and to Kerr's vocal phrasing is critical to the success of this album. This is a vocal set of constantly changing moods, expressions of fresh ideas and solid musicianship. Recommended.
Track Listing: Polka Dots & Moonbeams; That old Black Magic; I've Got the World on a String; Day Dream; Small Day Tomorrow; You Don't Know What Love Is; I've Got just about Everything; The Masquerade Is Over; Mad about the Boy; Star Eyes; Glad to Be Unhappy; I Get along without You Very Well
Personnel: Trudy Kerr - Vocals; Mulgrew Miller - Piano; Geoff Gascoyne - Bass; Sebastian de Krom - Drums; Guy Barker - Trumpet
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.