After favoring soul and disco in the 1970s and early '80s, Marlena Shaw has made jazz her #1 priority in the 1990s. The big-voiced, Carmen McRae-influenced singer did some impressive things in R&B (including the humorous "Go Away, Little Boy"), but Elemental Soul reminds us that it's certainly great to have her back on the jazz tip. Shaw (who is joined by tenor hero Stanley Turrentine on three tunes) shows just how persuasive an improviser she can be on everything from Mose Allison's "Your Mind Is On Vacation" to the standards "My Old Flame" and "How Deep Is The Ocean," and she even manages to surprise us on "Round Midnight"giving us a rare chance to hear the Thelonious Monk standard at a medium tempo. Heaven knows, "Round Midnight" has been done to death, but amazingly, Shaw's version sounds fresh. Again, it's great to have Shaw back on the jazz tip.
Reprinted with the permission of Myrna Daniels and L.A. Jazz Scene , the largest jazz publication in Southern California.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.