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Various: Quintessential

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This album salutes the talents of five singers from the San Francisco Bay area. They offer a varied of standards and originals, with the former in the majority. While all the tracks are well done and each is endowed with qualities unique to the performer, there are some that are worthwhile pinpointing. Shanna Carlson's interpretation of "You're My Thrill" gets a sensitive and knowledgeable reading recalling Rosemary Clooney. Kenny Stahl's flute backing and solo is just one example of the high level of accompanists that appear on this CD. Jennifer Lee's haunting rendition of her arrangement of "Don't Blame Me" has her singing a bit behind the beat set by John Shifflett's bass. Cathi Walkup, with her deep resonant vibrato, is striking on Django Reinhardt's "Nuages" with Dimitri Matheny's fluegelhorn noodling underneath. In contrast, there's the light, feathery vocal offering of Jenna Mammina on "I'm old Fashioned" and her anything but sweet and proper rendering of Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar".

There is good original material as well on the agenda. A sense of wistfulness surrounds Shanna Carlson's "Funhouse Mirror" which Hugo Wainzinger's guitar helps to create. Sharman Duran, the daughter of eminent jazz guitarist Eddie Duran, does a somber, sad vocal recitation of her own "Lagrimas".

This is one of the better vocal albums I heard this year so far and it's highly recommended.


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