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Pippa Hayes: It Had to Be You

C. Michael Bailey By

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Australian vocalist Pippa Hayes is foremost an educator, but that old saw about "those who can...do and those who can't...teach" does not apply. Hayes is perfectly comfortable performing, with an infectious method and effortless grace. She has a coy and coquettish voice, lazy and sensual as Quaaludes and honey (in places, almost too much so). However, Hayes harbors no fear stylistically, putting it all out there with a relaxed confidence. She shows perfection on Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You," where she achieves a nuclear balance between drowsy bliss and sated desire.

Hayes plays things safe sticking with well-known standards and then relying on her exceptional delivery and equally exceptional band to define the performance. "Ain't Misbehavin'" is simply more fun than should be allowed, the singer's languid purr coupled with tasty solos by trumpeter Bob Barnard, tenor saxophonist Ron Naim and bassist Craig Scott. Hayes spins a convincing bossa nova on Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars," with the band providing just enough Brazilian fragrance, nothing overpowering. A little goes a long way here and is properly administered.

"Lullaby of Birdland" and "Tea for Two" are fine vehicles for Hayes, who sings with a depth rarely afforded the old pieces. Not enough can be said for the singer's band, which swings with effortless grace and confidence. Pianist Tim Fisher comps and solos in a textbook demonstration of how a jazz singer is to be supported, while guitarist Mike Hayes softens "Tea for Two" with muted playing that always encourages and never overpowers the singer.

From all indications, this young singer has great things to say and the chops to say them.

Track Listing: Our Day Will Come; It Had To Be You; Oh Lady Be Good; Nearness of You; Ain't Misbehavin'; Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars; Lullaby of Birdland; Tea For Two; In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.

Personnel: Pippa Hayes: vocals; Tim Fisher: piano; Mike Hayes: guitar; Craig Scott: bass; Dave Goodman: drums; Jess Clampa: percussion; Ron Naim: tenor saxophone; Bob Barnard: trumpet; Trevor Rippingale: alto saxophone, clarinet; Anthony Kable: trombone; Jeremy Borthwick: trombone; Dan Barnett: trombone; Roy Ferin: trombone.

Title: It Had to Be You | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Seyhan Muzik

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