Japan's appetite for American jazz is ever increasing and their Venus Records has been releasing new material from mainstream artists that is attractively packaged and superbly recorded. Included in their catalog is Moon River, bassist/vocalist Nicki Parrott's debut as a leader.
Much in demand as a bassist, Parrott has developed a uniquely emotive style that is adaptable to a number of genres but in all cases her sensitive touch is what sets her apart. Her recent foray into jazz vocals complements her bass playing exceedingly well and is similarly showcased here. Like her bass playing, the power in her voice is drawn from her phrasing and textural mastery which is striking and very well suited to this program that consists primarily of standards.
Rounding out a quintet that develops these nuggets into delightfully fresh and poignant performances are the best jazz musicians that Parrott has yet to record with. Billy Drummond, whose textural drums augment Parrot perfectly, jointly anchors this very strong rhythm section. Tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, in possession of a warm rich tone, adds a smoky air to the allure of tunes like "Besame Mucho" and "Cry Me A River" while sweetening the playfulness of the Louis Jordan classic "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?."
Pianist John Di Martino and guitarist Paul Myers remain quite true to these melodies but do occasionally swing out to cook a tune like Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To." In the context of all this is Parrott whose combination of sensitivity and coquettishness, on both bass and vocals, can be beautifully tender as it is on the CD closer "The More I See You" or frankly erotic as on her own "Nicky's Blues." Mastered in a way that evokes a warm club atmosphere, Moon River is a fitting forum for Parrott to flaunt her singular combination of poignant vocals and passionate bass.
Moon River; Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?; Say It Isn't So; You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To; Takin' A Chance On Love; I Don't Know Enough About You; Makin' Whoopee; Cry Me A River; What A Difference A Day Made; Besame Mucho; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; Nicki's Blues; The More I See You.
Nicki Parrott: vocal & bass; Harry Allen: tenor sax; John Di Martino: piano; Paul Myers: guitar; Billy Drummond: drums.
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