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Jenny Davis is a Seattle-based jazz vocalist who lives in Port Townsend, Washington. She studied with jazz vocalist Beth Winter and graduated cum laude from Cornish College, where she was awarded the prestigious Maggie Hawthorne Scholarship. While she was still a student, Davis formed a jazz trio, sang lead vocals for JIm Knapp's Big Band and played in just about every jazz venue in Seattle.
This is Davis' second album; her debut appeared in 2000. It Amazes Me consists of a dozen standards and jazz standards with one original that provide a fine opportunity for the singer and her combo to shine. Jenny Davis has chosen a well-balanced mix of the old and new, except for one misstep, which was to open the album trying to breathe life into the tired "It Don't Mean A Thing."
Davis follows that with a unusual medley of "What'll I Do"/"The Tennessee Waltz." On this medley and the following version of Mel Torme's "Born to be Blue," there are some impressive obbligatos from saxophonists Chuck Easton and Willy Ingersoll. On Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring," Davis enters via vocalese and swings the uncredited lyrics with a tasty alto solo from Ingersoll and guitar work from Easton. Jobim's "Dindi" is given the ballad treatment; Easton switches to flute to complement the singer.
Davis also goes on to explore the title tune, a Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh 1960s ballad, and the childhood intracacies of the Oscar Brown, Jr. classic, "Dat Dere." She also surprises us with a version of Victor Young's "Beautiful Love," beginning in ballad tempo and then heading into a swinging pace. All of the compositions are well handled, but I was especially drawn to the mid-tempo tracks, like "Just Squeeze Me," where Davis finds just the right combination of shading and improvisation.
Track Listing: It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing); What'll I Do/The Tennessee Waltz; Born to
be Blue; Joy Spring; Dindi; It Amazes Me; Dat Dere; Make Someone Happy; Beautiful Love;
Scrapple From the Apple; Honeysuckle Rose; You Don't Know What Love Is; Answer the Call;
Just Squeeze Me.
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.