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Immediately, American expatriate Ellen Demos makes me recall two vocalists from this past year. The first is Lisa Sokolov , with her unique vocal style. Demos possesses the same vocal uniqueness without the burden of the iconoclastic that Sokolov bears. Second is Johanna Grüssner , who, like Demos, used mostly guitar accompaniment and weaved a large swath of bossa nova through her recording. Far from a synthesis of the two, Ellen Demos projects a completely realized style and content when she sings. It is this quality which makes her debut recording so very fine.
Ellen Demos plays the Betty Carter elastic scat card so perfectly that she may be considered its standard bearer today. She proves this time and again on Osmosis. From the get-go, "You Don't Know What Love Is" is very different from that of Chet Baker that we have grown accustomed to. The glee increases with the inclusion of the bang-up renditions of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" and "Angel." "River of Tears" is dispatched as a jazz-folk expression of American country & western music, while "'Round Midnight" is read in such a unique way that it may better Miles' 1950s expression.
Get used to it. Ellen Demos is here and she will be going nowhere. We should count ourselves fortunate that there is such a daring vocalist out there to challenge us.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.