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Mary Kay Riley: My Take

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Mary Kay Riley: My Take
Actress and singer Mary Kay Riley dips her toes gingerly into the recording pool with My Take, an amiable yet concise album whose five songs encompass a total playing time of twenty minutes. This may (or may not) be Riley's first such endeavor, as there are no liner notes and scant information about her on the web, save that she has had small roles in a handful of TV series.

Be that as it may, Riley has chosen three standards ("Violets for Your Furs," "Sophisticated Lady," "La Vie en Rose") and a pair of lesser-known themes, Thelonious Monk's silky "Pannonica" and David Yazbek's "You Walk with Me." What matters is how she interprets them, and here the verdict is mixed but leaning more toward positive than negative. Riley has a pleasing voice with a nice intimate quality, and proper respect for a lyric, but her pacing is at times less than precise, as is her modulation. Even so, her grade is higher than many other vocalists with greater experience.

Riley is at her best on the last song, a brief rendition of "La Vie en Rose," sung in French. On Matt Dennis & Tom Adair's "Violets for Your Furs," she changes the lyric to "you bought me violets for my furs," which works well enough. Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady," which follows, is more problematic, but that may only be when compared to the many other splendid versions already recorded. "Pannonica" and "You Walk with Me" are presentable but no more than that. There is room enough along the way for a handful of solos, by pianist Max Leake, tenor saxophonist Langston Kelly and guitarist Eric Susoeff, and they are fine. Bassist John Caldwell adds a backup vocal on "You Walk with Me."

As to the album's purpose, it could be a stepping-stone, designed to introduce Riley to a wider audience, as twenty minutes of music, no matter how well performed, may not lure many paying customers. If so, it is an admirable showcase, one that certainly will not do her any harm. The rating, however, reflects that twenty-minute playing time.

Track Listing

Violets for Your Furs; Sophisticated Lady; Pannonica; You Walk with Me; La Vie in Rose.

Personnel

Langston Kelly
saxophone, tenor
Max Leake
piano
John Caldwell
bass, acoustic

Album information

Title: My Take | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Self Produced


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