All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Anna Callahan: My Ideal

Roger Crane By

Sign in to view read count
To a jazz writer (or any jazz fan) there is little as exciting as discovering fresh unheralded talent. Which brings me to a favorite hyphenate, singer-trumpeter-composer-arranger Anna Callahan. Her debut CD, My Ideal, is not just good, it is surprisingly excellent.

Perhaps, like me, you often wonder when you will, once again, experience what Whitney Balliett calls the “sound of surprise,” that electric sensation upon discovering a new exciting jazz artist. Well, on Callahan’s debut, you will be surprised at the strength of her “originals,” such as the melancholy and masterful “O Woe Is Me.” or “So Long Ago” which has lyrics by Anna’s brother, Timothy Callahan. And you will be surprised at her unexpected approaches to noted standards, such as Frank Loesser’s “I’ve Never Been In Love Before” or the Richard Whiting title track, “My Ideal.” The unrecalled and undiscovered are also included, such as a charming song, titled “The Moon Looks Down and Laughs,” recorded by Billie Holiday back in 1938. Callahan has impeccable taste in tunes and her eleven selections are nicely balanced between noted standards, well-written originals and the arcane. Callahan smartly closed the CD with her own song, “Adieu,” which has “future standard” written all over it. This sad ballad is exceptional both musically and lyrically (“so careful with my countenance/so careless with my friends/so easy to say nothing/so hard to make amends”) Karen Hammack’s piano playing on this reflective piece is achingly beautiful. Other singers have already expressed an interest in performing this wonderful new song.

Callahan is very much a jazz singer and performer but, fortunately for all of us who love language, she does not forget the lyrics. Her phrasing is conversational, sometimes sassy or sometimes sad, as each song requires. But she is also a master of time and an impressive scatter, improvising horn-like solos that are the mirror of her trumpet playing. However, like an experienced lover, she takes her time on ballads. For example, her easy, patient way with Irving Berlin’s "Say It Isn’t So?" is downright ecstatic (and sexy).

You can tell a lot about a performer by the accompanists that she keeps and Callahan has the very best on her debut CD. On piano is the aforementioned Karen Hammack, who plays Callahan’s originals as if they were noted standards (which they may become). Hammack’s music has wings: luscious and tensile, disciplined and nuanced. I don’t know of a better accompanist. On guitar, is the first rate Barry Zweig, who is also a noted jazz educator. The bassist and drummer are one half of Callahan’s quartet that she formed in the fall of 2000, Rick Shaw at the upright bass and Jamey Tate at the drum set. Their familiarity with Callahan’s songs and approaches is most evident. These four musicians are more than accompanists; they are equal partners in the making of a superior jazz CD.

Anna Callahan is a unique combination of talents, singer, trumpeter, arranger and composer and I highly recommend My Ideal. Information on Callahan and the purchase of this superior CD can be obtained at her website,

The discovery of exciting new artists and songs is the most stimulating part of reviewing music. I’m already looking forward to Callahan's next CD.

Track Listing: My Ideal I've Never Been In Love Before I Knew Say It Isn't So When Snow Falls The Moon Looks Down & Laughs O Woe Is Me Triste So Long Ago My Romance Adieu

Personnel: Anna Callahan, vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn Karen Hammack, piano Barry Zweig, guitar Rick Shaw, bass Jamey Tate, drums.

Title: My Ideal | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Angharad


comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
My Ideal

My Ideal


My Ideal

My Ideal



Related Articles

Read Lala Belu CD/LP/Track Review
Lala Belu
by Chris May
Published: March 23, 2018
Read All Melody CD/LP/Track Review
All Melody
by Phil Barnes
Published: March 23, 2018
Read The Future is Female CD/LP/Track Review
The Future is Female
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Hunters & Scavengers CD/LP/Track Review
Hunters & Scavengers
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow CD/LP/Track Review
Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 22, 2018
Read Transatlantic CD/LP/Track Review
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 22, 2018
Read "Live At The Magic Triangle" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Magic Triangle
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "Evolution" CD/LP/Track Review Evolution
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "I Try To Remember Where I Come From" CD/LP/Track Review I Try To Remember Where I Come From
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "Double Mirror" CD/LP/Track Review Double Mirror
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 8, 2017
Read "The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke" CD/LP/Track Review The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: December 26, 2017
Read "Ten Billion Versions of Reality" CD/LP/Track Review Ten Billion Versions of Reality
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 30, 2017