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After listening to scores of albums by new jazz artists, I've come to the conclusion that there are more bad singers out there than bad anything else pianists, trumpeters, etc. Singing jazz with any kind of authority is just plain hard. A decent voice is not enough and far from the most important aspect of jazz singing. Intangibles like presence, style, originality, and the all-important ability to hold your own with a swingin' band trump pure technique any day in my book.
So it was with a little apprehension that I previewed I Feel Like Some Jazz Today by a North Carolina singer named Eve Cornelious and the Chip Crawford Trio. I needn't have worried. As soon as Cornelious steps up to the microphone on the opening title cut, a rollicking original by Crawford, it's clear we're in the hands of a pro. Here's a singer who has integrated the best of the modern jazz tradition, drawing from the likely sources Sarah, Ella, Billie and putting them together into something wholly her own. She's equally adept at romantic ballads or fast-paced scatting. She's also blessed with a truly sensational voice, easily hitting high notes that would have most of her peers straining check her bravura performance on Miles Davis' "Flamenco Sketches."
Pianist Crawford (he and Cornelious are husband and wife) and his group offer wonderfully sympathetic accompaniment on a set that includes several of the most challenging standards for vocalists: "Lush Life," "My Funny Valentine," and, daringly, an Ella-inspired romp on "Air Mail Special." Cornelious pulls them all off with style. Expect to hear big things from her.
Web site: http://www.evecornelious.com
Eve Cornelious, vocals; Chip Crawford, piano; Michael Howell, bass; Alvin Atkinson, drums; Ray Codrington, trumpet; Reggie Codrington, soprano sax; Beverly Botsford, percussion; Ira Wiggins,tenor sax.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.