139

Carol Mennie: I'm Not a Sometime Thing

Jochem van Dijk By

Sign in to view read count
Carol Mennie: I'm Not a Sometime Thing In the jazz scene there's a lot of complaining about the current state of affairs in the vocal department, where the risk-free, nap-inducing Great American Songbook collections come rolling down the jazz volcano in thick, ubiquitous lava-waves. So, to paraphrase the tune "Who Needs You" from Carol Mennie's debut recording, I'm Not a Sometime Thing : who needs another vocal CD?

This one, though, eschews the genre's clichés, and Mennie has a lot to offer. She is one of those singers where a "deep voice" means that it is clear as a bell in all registers. Hers is a consistently full-on, no nonsense and arresting instrument. Carried by good old-fashioned perfect diction and outward bound expression, she displays exquisite powers of lyrical interpretation. Mennie makes you listen to a lyric, whether you felt like it or not.

Showing the maturity of the seasoned performer, she has the self-assurance to stay away from what is not really her cup of tea, and she does not try to court the tastes of hardcore vocal jazz fans who expect scatting, over-the-beat phrasing and other displays of vocal artistry of the improvising nature. Her concept of singing firmly rests on the theatrical platform which is her background.

But this does not mean that I'm Not a Sometime Thing lacks jazz validity. Mennie has a refreshingly unprejudiced hand in picking musicians, and an open minded taste in arrangements. It is a nice surprise to find acclaimed left-wing stylists like Dom Minasi and Ken Filiano on this record, albeit understandably in much more streamlined roles than in their usual modus operandi. Still, within the confinements of the song, Mennie has no problem letting her boys loose in the studio. The instrumental parts freely dance around her, creating a nice contrast with her centered vocals, while the bounciness and playfulness of the arrangements at the same time amplify the boisterous energy that is her own.

The compositions by Minasi are quite enjoyable ("Who Needs You" is a witty tune and "Brown Eyes" an expertly arranged ballad), and they are all solid songs, several notches above the boneless ditties that often pass for compositions in an attempt to be "modern." But the tune that showcases the strengths of this record best is "Willow Weep for Me," with a marvelous arrangement and one of Mennie's best performances on the record. And the overly glorious reverb on Mennie's voice can't hide a superb rendition of "He Was Too Good to Me."

I'm Not a Sometime Thing is an outspoken, distinctive and varied debut CD full of zest and character. Supported by lively ensemble work and inventive arrangements, Carol Mennie hints at a highly personal vocal style somewhere between Marlene Dietrich and Carmen McRae. It makes me very curious as to where she will take things from here.

Track Listing: Jazz, Jazz, Jazz; You Don't Know What Love Is; He Was Too Good to Me; Willow Weep For Me; Brown Eyes; I'm Not a Sometime Thing; In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning; Who Needs You; Too Long at the Fair; Angela; Lover Man

Personnel: Carol Mennie(vocal), Dom Minasi(guitars), Patience Higgins(reeds), Valery Ponomarev(trumpet, flugelhorn), Michael Jefry Stevens(keys), Tomas Ulrich (cello), Ken Filiano(bass), Jay Rosen(drums), Tom McGrath(percussion)

Year Released: 2004 | Style: Vocal


Shop

More Articles

Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Two CD/LP/Track Review Two
by Joe Gatto
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand CD/LP/Track Review Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "Prick of the Litter" CD/LP/Track Review Prick of the Litter
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "La Diversité" CD/LP/Track Review La Diversité
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 31, 2017
Read "Happy Madness" CD/LP/Track Review Happy Madness
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Greatest Hits" CD/LP/Track Review Greatest Hits
by Doug Collette
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "How to Build a City" CD/LP/Track Review How to Build a City
by Jim Olin
Published: January 1, 2017
Read "Inspired" CD/LP/Track Review Inspired
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 4, 2016
comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!