Cape Cod-based vocalist Ann Austin sounds blue collar, blue jeans, with an unaffected and straightforward delivery and pipes with some power when she needs it. Throw in the occasional world-weariness and an underlying toughnesstinted with vulnerabilityand she sounds like a lady who sings in a bar somewhereand does it very well, exploring themes of love, longing, love lost, problems with love.
The "love themes" might sound country & western, but Austin's gig is more straight-on popular songs with a soulful side to them. On "Ain't No Use" I'm reminded of Aretha, as Austin sings with emotion and power in front of the band's bluesy backing. On "Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You, Baby)"done orignally by British songstress LuluAustin sounds resolved to the fact that she's head over heels with someone who, perhaps, doesn't return the feeling. Stevie Wonder's "Lately," arranged with a shuffling groove and John Harrison III's erudite piano, has an elegant sheen. If Austin sings in blue jeans, Harrison plays in a tuxedo, which is a dynamic that contributes greatly to the success of the sound.
Austin penned four of the songs here, and if she's a fine vocalist, she's a better tunesmith. The title cut, "Lost in Your Eyes," and "Can't Erase You From My Heart" seem perfect vehicles for coverage by other songstresses, with strong and engaging melodies and intelligent everywoman lyrics.
A strong debut. Now let's hear some covers of Austin's originals.
Track Listing: Tell Me Not to Love You, Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You, Baby), Ain't No Use, Once Upon a Time, Lost in Your Eyes, Lately, I Can't Erase You From My Heart, Black Coffee, Fragile, Ballad of the Sad Young Men, Cha Cha Blues
Personnel: Ann Austin--vocals; John Harrison III--piano; Rusty Russo--drums; Mark Pucci--accoustic bass; Paul Good--guitar
I love jazz because it is in my blood. It is the only original American art form. It is sacred. The greatest musicians are jazz artists.
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 listening to my father's records of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young.
I met Sonny Stitt, Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo, Michael Brecker, Cannonball Adderley, Walter Booker, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, George Benson, Mike
Stern, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Harper, Skip Hadden, Charlie Haden.
The best show I ever attended was Joe Lovano with Soundprints at the Wexner Center in Columbus Ohio in 2014.
The first jazz record I bought was Miles Smiles.