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Pianist / composer Nick Levinovsky, whose dazzling big–band debut, Listen Up!, was reviewed earlier this year, shines the spotlight this time on his lovely and talented wife, Kathy Jenkins, using his band (and trio) as picturesque backdrops for her bright–eyed vocals. Jenkins, whose background is musical theatre and cabaret, has conclusively mastered the subtleties of Jazz phrasing, and, coupled with her clear, pleasing voice and highly personal style, gives each of these 14 songs an absolutely delightful reading. She’s comfortable at any tempo, notably persuasive on the ballads (“When the Sun Comes Out,” “Loverman,” “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “The End of a Love Affair”) but no slouch on the scorchers (“From This Moment On,” “Love for Sale,” If I Were a Bell,” for example). Included are ten time–tested standards, Thelonious Monk’s “Ask Me Now” (marvelously articulated) and three relative newcomers, “What You Don’t Know About Women,” “Gotta Move” and “Lonely Woman.” Impressive as she is, the Levinovsky orchestra is no less so, thanks in part to the leader’s wonderful arrangements and as much to the band’s remarkable ability to make them dance and sparkle. The full ensemble is heard on eight selections, the trio on six. While Levinovsky is the most prominent soloist, saxophonists Chip Burris, Andy Middleton, Rich Perry and Mike Migliore; trumpeters Andy Gravish and Kenny Rampton, and trombonists Dave Panichi and Noah Bless also have their moments, and none disappoints. Neither does Jenkins, whose debut as a full–fledged Jazz singer is a smashing success, one that undeniably calls for more of the same.
Track listing: From This Moment On; When the Sun Comes Out; What You Don’t Know About Women; Love for Sale; Loverman; Gotta Move; Lonely Woman; If I Were a Bell; Fascinatin’ Rhythm; Black Coffee; I’ve Got the World on a String; Come Rain or Come Shine; The End of a Love Affair; Ask Me Now (59:57).
Kathy Jenkins, vocals, with the Nick Levinovsky Big Band and Trio. Big band