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Before commenting on the music, a word of congratulations — the eight photographs of Amandah Jantzen that adorn Devil May Care have equaled Maria Schneider’s record for “most pictures of a performing artist accompanying her own compact disc.” She needed both sides of the tray card to do it but managed to draw even with Schneider’s notable achievement on her latest album, Allégresse. In five of the eight photos Jantzen, a green–eyed blonde, is posed on a beach in swimsuit or robe, which may or may not help sell a few copies of the album. It certainly can’t hurt, but may deflect one’s attention from Jantzen’s most important asset, which is of course her singing voice. It’s clear and pleasant, seductive when appropriate, with a slight sharpness around the edges that enhances her intonation, delivery and “devil may care” presence. Jantzen’s choice of material is exemplary, and she knows how to sell a lyric without undue embellishment. Whether she’s a “Jazz singer” is debatable (it almost always is) but she has surrounded herself with talented Oregon–based pros who keep the music swinging. Al Wold is especially helpful, moving easily from clarinet to tenor or baritone sax, while drummer Craig Scott (wonderful with sticks or brushes) switches to vibes on Jobim’s “How Insensitive.” The closing number, Mack Gordon / Harry Warren’s “This Is Always,” is a sultry duet with pianist Chris Sigerson who teams with Scott, bassist Ken Lister and guitarist Ihor Kukurudza to comprise an impressive rhythm section. When all is said and sung, Jantzen is a pleasure to hear (and to see).
Contact:Starfire, P.O. Box 12022, Portland, OR 97212–0022. www.amandahjantzen.com
Track Listing: Cheek to Cheek; Early Autumn; Besame Mucho; Devil May Care; How Insensitive; It
Personnel: Amandah Jantzen, vocals; Al Wold, tenor, baritone sax, clarinet; Chris Sigerson, piano; Ihor Kukurudza, guitar; Ken Lister, bass; Craig Scott, drums, vibes.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.