"Give my new disc a spin," Chicago-based vocalist Joanie Pallatto
e-mailed. "I think you'll like it." That was more than twenty years ago, and Pallatto was right. That album, Words & Music
(Southport Records, 1999), was splendid, as was Pallatto, reciting memorable lyrics by Rodgers & Hart, the Gershwin brothers, Antonio Carlos Jobim
, Hoagy Carmichael
, Bob Dorough
and others. It's now 2021 and Pallatto has recorded another "new disc," My Original Plan,
on which she sings as well as ever. This time, however, the music and lyrics were written by Pallatto and/or her husband, pianist Bradley Parker-Sparrow
. At the risk of drawing any unreasonable comparisons, it should be noted that the change represents quite a departure from those legendary tunesmiths whose exceptional talents enlivened Words & Music.
A second notable departure lies in the fact that My Original Plan
is almost bereft of any jazz component. For the most part, the album consists of Pallatto singing (backgrounds as well as lead) while everyone else keeps time. As far as that goes, it is done quite well. What is lacking is any melodic or lyric design that quickens the senses or touches the heart. It's essentially garden-variety pop music, well performed but as a rule unimposing. The album cover reads "Featuring Fareed Haque
," but guitarist Haque's primary role is accompanist, not soloist. In fact, there is not more than one solo worth noting, by harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy
on the album's last track, "Lucky to Belong to You." Most other solos are brief and nondescript, with the possible exception of Levy again (this time on piano) on "About a Song."
If the album is aimed toward air play, not jazz libraries, it could be mission accomplished, as this is the sort of music one might reasonably expect to hear on radio these days. Basically smooth and mellow, its emphasis on good humor with an occasional heavier sentiment thrown in to season the bill of fare. As for Pallatto, as noted, she is singing as well as ever, and, even more important, as was noted in the review of Words & Music,
"doing what she loves best, and doing it quite well. That should be enough to make anyone happy..." As musical happiness lies in the ear of the beholder, let's leave it there for now.
Open Your Eyes;
Do Butterflies Cry?;
The Blank Page;
My Original Plan;
About a Song;
A Simple Time;
They Sentenced Us to Paradise;
Lucky to Belong to You.