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Betty Bryant: Lotta Livin'

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Betty Bryant: Lotta Livin'
First, double-check to make sure there aren't any misprints. No, it's an honest-to-goodness fact that Betty Bryant—who sings, plays piano, wrote four of the nine numbers and arranged half a dozen on her fourteenth album—really was almost ninety-four years old when Lotta Livin' was recorded in 2023.

Bryant's rough and edgy voice is remarkably strong and steady, while her piano playing simply defies any generational labels. As a vocalist, no note seems out of her reach, and she knows how to swing in any setting. Bryant is a true-blue jazz singer whose years of experience underline her every note and phrase. Besides which, she's a sharp and clever writer, as her quartet of likeable compositions proves.

Bryant's groovy "Katydid" is a linguistic delight, as are "Chicken Wings" and "Put a Lid on It." On her other theme, the breezy "Blues to Get Started," Bryant plays piano all the way and shows she's no greenhorn at the keyboard either. Tenor saxophonist Robert Kyle solos neatly there, as he does on several numbers, and moves to harmonica on "Chicken Wings." Other soloists are trumpeter Tony Guerrero, bassist Richard Simon, guitarist Kleber Jorge and drummer Kenny Elliott. Of course, Bryant has to ring down the curtain with Lee Adams and Charles Strouse's "A Lot of Livin' to Do" from the Broadway smash Bye Bye Birdie, taken at a slower and more amorous pace than usual.

Bryant opens with the standard "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" and appraises Bobby Troup's "Baby Baby All the Time," Ray Noble's "The Very Thought of You" and T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday," all with a style and panache that are clearly her own. She closes "A Lot of Livin' to Do" with a brief look at her bucket list and the affirmation, "ain't life grand"—which, in her case, is unarguably true. While others may deem getting out of bed in the morning a triumph at her age, Bryant remains focused, feisty and ready to take on the world. Bravo! Score one for the power of savoir-faire and positive thinking.

Track Listing

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea; Put a Lid on It; Baby, Baby All the Time; Blues to Get Started; Chicken Wings; Stormy Monday; Katydid; The Very Thought of You; A Lot of Livin’ to Do.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Lotta Livin' | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Self Produced


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