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Ellen Robinson: Mercy!

Jim Santella By

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The vocal duet that Ellen Robinson and Ben Flint sing on "The Dimming of the Day comes with a heartfelt message all its own. That's her forte. With this program of fourteen delicate melodies, the singer delivers from the heart. She just lets it fly, and what happens is a lovely melodic parade.

Recorded at several live concert performances in San Francisco, her program runs comfortable with a light, acoustic texture that appeals to a broad audience. From Mose Allison and Johnny Mandel to Thelonious Monk and Joni Mitchell, she knows how to select a program for variety.

As director of the Anything Goes Chorus, a fifty-member community organization for men and women which she founded twenty-five years ago in the San Francisco Bay area, Robinson knows how to connect.

Still Crazy After All These Years runs the same kind of course that most of her program does, as Robinson makes it her own. She's convincing. Each song has a story to tell, and she does so with clarity and warmth.

Sittin' by the window/watching cars go by, you feel that forlorn emotion coming through. Robinson interprets lyrics in such a way that we can appreciate them completely.

With Jon Hendricks' lyrics to Monk's "Ask Me Now, the song is re-titled "How I Wish. From a melodic standpoint, the angularity of Monk's work comes through, but the interpretation runs smoother than that. Pianist Ben Flint performs credibly on his interlude, but the collaboration wanders somewhat distant from Monk's original intent.

Robinson makes each selection her own, giving us a grand look at the person. Her composition, "Fly Away, waltzes eloquently with an aural invisibility, while her "Hold On stands out as the high point of the album. Animated, and as angular as the original Monk, she's full of energy on this one. Musically, she's in top form.

Robinson's "One of You and Me introduces an odd meter to her affair, bringing excitement into the fold from underneath. An up-tempo swinger on "Them There Eyes and an emotional prayer on "Where Do You Start? provide examples of her sheer variety. Ellen Robinson knows how to connect with an audience, and she convinces readily.


Track Listing: Fly Away; Everybody

Personnel: Ellen Robinson: vocals; Ben Flint: piano, vocal (4); John Shifflett: bass; John Wiitala: bass; John Arkin: drums; Andrew Eberhard: drums; Jeff Marrs: drums; Charles McNeal: soprano and tenor saxophones.

Title: Mercy! | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Self Produced

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