Bay-Area vocalist Ellen Robinson is a study in jazz grace and elegance. Rather than a bright and shiny repertoire of specialized training (of which there is nothing wrong), Robinson sports a music education degree from Manhattanville college with a major in piano, and rides an experiential arc in to the heart of the Great American Songbook. Robinson readily stakes her claim on the rich melodies of the stage and Tin Pan Alley, demanding that the lyrics move her before she commits to a song. Don't Wait Too Long is Robinson's third recording after 2006's Mercy! and 2001's On My Way to You, both on the singer's EMR Music label.
Her very successful modus operandi lies in her respect for melody and her far-reaching embrace of American song. This particular recital, supported by an empathic trio with saxophone, addresses songs on the edge of standards. Save for "Almost Like Being in Love," "You Must Believe in Spring" and "But Beautiful," the songs are off the beaten path. These are all songs favored by horn players and Robinson's no-nonsense delivery reveals why. These melodies are muscular and rich, requiring a strong and disciplined voice to deliver them properly. Robinson has this in spades.
Her keyboard support is exceptional, with Murray Low ably steering the band as he alternates between acoustic and electric piano. But Robinson is the principle, easily approachable and enjoyed.
Track Listing: Dance Only; Soon; If; Almost Like Being in Love; The Storm; You Must
Believe in Spring; Tick Tock; Be Careful; Our Day; Calling You; But
Beautiful; Don’t Wait Too Long.
Personnel: Ellen Robinson: vocals; Murray Low: piano, keyboards; Sam Bevan: bass;
Dan Foltz: drums; Kristen Strom: soprano and tenor saxophone.
I love jazz because it's been a life's work.
I was first exposed to jazz by my father.
I met Hampton Hawes.
The best show I ever attended was Les McCann.
The first jazz record I bought was Herbie Hancock.
My advice to new listeners is to listen at a comfortable volume.