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Kelley Johnson: Make Someone Happy

Jim Santella By

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Singer Kelley Johnson has a relaxed manner and a brassy aura that speaks clearly to the listener who wants to appreciate lyrics and become immersed in a song’s attitude. Searingly effective on slow, deliberate, dramatic ballads, such as "I Haven’t Got Anything Better To Do" and "Moment to Moment," the singer points every phrase and shapes every note to make it linger in the air. Elsewhere, as on "Solitude" and "Throw it Away," the singer presents a limp affair that will purposefully cloud your blue skies. However, the latter, by Abbey Lincoln, would seem to cry out for more clouds and a stronger, darker statement of the angst expressed by lyrics such as:

"Throw it away, you can throw it away.
Give your love, live your life each and every day.
So keep your hands wide open, let the sun shine through.
You can never lose a thing if it belongs to you."

Sharing the piano duties, Fred Hersch and John Hansen join bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Lewis Nash for solid support. Two of the finest in today’s mainstream, Grenadier and Nash share the solo spotlight on "Falling in Love With Love."

"Recorda Me" folds in a lovely flugelhorn solo by Greg Gisbert, while Brian Lynch graces "Stompin’ at the Savoy" with a tender trumpet interlude and fours with Johnson’s scatting. Guitarist Paul Meyers shares a slow cool bossa with the singer, while Steve Wilson blends a mellow alto saxophone solo characteristically with Johnson’s "September in the Rain." Hersch, Grenadier, and Nash help the singer create "So Many Stars" to reign as the session’s highlight. An all-around vocalist, Kelley Johnson shares a jazz singer’s arsenal with the listener and blends perfectly with the ensemble. Biographical information about this singer may be found at http://www.speakeasy.net/nwjazz/bios/johnson1.html .


Track Listing: How Long Has This Been Going On?; Moment to Moment; I Haven

Personnel: Kelley Johnson- vocals; Fred Hersch, John Hansen- piano; Larry Grenadier- acoustic bass; Lewis Nash- drums; Steve Wilson- alto saxophone; Greg Gisbert- flugelhorn, trumpet; Brian Lynch- trumpet; Mike Davis- trombone; Paul Meyers- guitar.

Title: Make Someone Happy | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Sapphire


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