Who knew "Del Sasser" had lyrics? Part of the joy of listening to new recordings is finding such things out. And Vicki Burns does a convincing job of it. In this intriguing compilation of standardsyes, musicians can record from the Great American Songbook (GAS) without disgracing themselves, no matter what anyone saysbop heads and originals, Vicki Burns acquits herself admirably. She is solid evidence that the singer makes the song, rather than the other way around.
For someone who took a hiatus from singing for five years, that is simply a commentary on how difficult the music business can be. One does not just deal with lousy pianos, unreliable sidemen, crooked contactors. temperamental conductors, and a frequently inattentive and ignorant audience. Everyone has an off night, which, inevitably defines them for some. All that not withstanding, make no mistake, Burns is a pretty fair vocalist. That does not necessarily mean that every tune here is a definitive version. Everyone has different yardsticks: for example, Marlene Ver Plank's recording of Bernice Petkere's "Close Your Eyes" might be a personal favorite. Similarly, Carmen McRae owns "Well You Needn't," recorded with an All-Universe band. But Burns more than holds her own and then some. Her scatting does not sound as if she's reading from a how-to-do-it book. Burns may have learned from Ella Fitzgerald, but is not copying anyone. "Love Spell" is a Burns original, and if the changes sound familiar, her take on them is different. Burns' may not be the first vocal version of "Sidewinder," or even the most outré, but it is certainly credible. Even "Equinox" has a previous vocal version, but Burns' is arguably more persuasive and interesting as a cover of the John Coltrane original. And do wait for her resolution, which is something. "This Time The Dream's on Me" really swings hard, with a lot of support from bassist Sam Bevan. "Siren Song" and "Out of This World" are both excellent.
The arrangements, mostly by Sam Bevan (perhaps the unsung hero here), are a major part of what makes this recording bounce along; the band is hip, tight, and well placed. For many, Vicki Burns will not be a known commodity, although this is her third recording. She has a great voice, and infectious swing, and a whole lot of chops. And a bright future.
If You Never Fall In Love With Me/Del Sasser
Close Your Eyes
Lotus Blossom Days
Watch Out/ The Sidewinder
A Long Way To Go/ Equinox
It's Over Now/ Well You Needn't
You Don't Have To Believe
This Time The Dream's On Me
Out Of This World
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