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Robin McKelle's debut CD is a blast of fresh air from the past. Introducing is done from the stance of a band singer from the 1940s in musical format and material, logical since most legendary jazz and pop singers learned their trade that way.
Most of the tracks are read in standard fashionthe band taking the opening choruses and the vocals coming in on the second, with strings added on the ballads. Many of the arrangements come right out of the Nelson Riddle book (especially the riffs on "On The Sunny Side Of The Street ). The instrumental solos are tasty and tasteful especially Pete Christleib's tenor on "For All We Know and "Dream.
McKelle can belt, but she's also able to display a softer side of her vocal ability. "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen (a pop hit in the 1940s along with "Yes, My Darling Daughter ) shows off a little-girl vocal quality. The song has been treated with some salsa courtesy of arranger Willie Murillo and features an effective trumpet solo by him as well.
In keeping with the "big band formula, the CD even features a boy vocalist/girl vocalist duet. On "You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me, McKelle is joined by Robbie Wycoff, whose smooth voice sounds uncannily like Nat Cole's.
McKelle does well with both ballads and up-tempo tunes and, wonder of wonders, you can understand every word she sings. She likes to play around with the melody but it might be better if she established it more solidly before making it interesting.
But all in all, this is a delightful CD with a time honored way to introduce a new vocalist. Enjoy this one and look forward to McKelle's future offerings.
Track Listing: Something's Gotta Give; Bei Mir Bist Du Schon; Night and Day; For All We Know; You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me; Dream; Yes, My Darling Daughter; Deep In A Dream; I've Got The World On A String; Come Rain Or Come Shine; The Lamp Is Low; On The Sunny Side Of The Street.
Personnel: Robin McKelle: vocals; Bernie Dresel: drums and percussion; Reggie McBride: bass; Quinn Johnson: piano; Larry Koonse: guitar; Wayne Bergeron: trumpet; Gary Grant: trumpet; Don Clark: trumpet; Willie Murillo: trumpet; Andy Martin: bass trombone; Charlie Morillis: trombone; David Stout: trombone; Paul Klintworth: French horn; Bob Shepard: alto sax and clarinet; Brian Scanlon: alto sax and clarinet; Ray Herrmann: tenor sax and clarinet; Mark Visher: tenor sax; Pete Christleib: tenor sax; Glen Berger: baritone sax and clarinet; Gary Foster: clarinet; Robbie Wycoff: vocal (5).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.