What I admire most about Shelley Neill’s Music Sweet Music is her splendid choice of material. And next to that, the enterprising rhythm section (especially pianist Laszlo Gardony). No, that doesn’t say much for the singer, but when one finds himself looking forward to the piano solos, that speaks volumes. It troubles me to appraise anyone so unkindly, as Neill is assuredly doing the best she can and probably worked hard to get where she is — but the fact is, her singing left me unmoved. I’d hoped it would be otherwise, but it wasn’t. On the other hand, given my flair for judging talent, she may soon be a superstar. On the plus side, Neill does sing with feeling, and her intonation is reliable. But I found her voice more irksome than inviting, and she has the unsettling habit (to me, at least) shared by so many singers of taking one–syllable words and making them two or even three. Returning to the positive, there are a number of seldom–heard treasures on the menu including “Too Soon to Tell,” “You Hit the Spot,” “Comes Love” (paired with “Fever”), “Since I Fell for You,” “Slow Down” and the lovely standards “Ill Wind” and “Blue Moon.” Neill sings them as well as she can; I wish her versions were more pleasing to these ears. But as everyone’s ears are different, they could make a more salutary impression on yours.
Track listing: Too Soon to Tell; You Hit the Spot; Trav’lin’ Light; Everything Must Change; Fever / Comes Love; Since I Fell for You; Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby; Dark Shadows; For Sentimental Reasons; Slow Down; You Are My Sunshine; I Didn’t Know What Time It Was; Ill Wind; Blue Moon; Teach Me Tonight (65:56).
I love jazz because it swings.
I was first exposed to jazz in Houston.
I met Joe LoCascio and Bob Henschen.
The best show I ever attended was Pat Martino.
The first jazz record I bought was Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
My advice to new listeners is to relax on 2 and 4 beats.