To paraphrase the claim once made by a well–known airline, Lisa Kelly loves to sing — and it shows. She’s clearly a Jazz singer too, altering melody, phrasing and tempo and scatting occasionally on Memories of Tomorrow to lend each song an invigorating new slant. Much as Kelly loves to sing, however, she graciously steps aside on four numbers to let hubby J.B. Scott and his colleagues have their say. Scott even does some scatting of his own (with a nod to Clark Terry) on the volatile closer, “Aggressive Passivity.” Scott wrote that one and the other instrumentals, “Annette’s Desire,” “Quasi Bop” and “Doin’ It Good.” Kelly raises the curtain with an up-tempo version of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” on which she has fun with the melody and lyrics, scats a bit, and rides easily above the hard–working rhythm section. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things,” also taken at a rapid clip and featuring Scott’s muted trumpet and more incisive scatting by Kelly, is followed by Freddie Green’s Jazz classic, “Until I Met You” (a.k.a. “Corner Pocket”) and the first two instrumentals, “Annette’s Desire” (on which Kelly does shadow Scott’s mellow trumpet with wordless vocalese) and “Quasi Bop,” a nimble burner with Latin roots. Kelly returns with a sultry reading of “Black Coffee,” then takes the listener on a tranquil “Sea Journey” before opening up the Great American Songbook to freshen Harold Arlen / Johnny Mercer’s “That Old Black Magic” and Alan Jay Lerner / Frederick Loewe’s “I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face.” Kelly’s last vocal (and one of her best), the pensive “Memories of Tomorrow,” is sandwiched between the quartet’s sunny readings of “Doin’ It Good” and “Aggressive Passivity.” While in operatic terms Kelly would probably be labeled a mezzo–soprano who sings pianissimo (in other words, she has neither exceptional range nor power), she makes the most of every asset, the most impressive of which is her deeply personal approach to every lyric. Kelly has spent a lot of time learning her craft and paying her dues — and it shows.
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