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Recent Vocal Releases

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Here are five recent releases by vocalists who each have their own unique spin on jazz singing.

Liz Terrell
It's All Right With Me
Westmont
2022

Liz Terrell's musical path has led her into the worlds of cabaret, musical theatre and gospel. This is her first recording as a leader and she get to show the power of her big, expressive voice on a wide swath of material. She sweeps grandly through standards like "It's All Right With Me" and "Night And Day," gets mischievously sultry on a medley of Fats Waller tunes and comes off torchy and vulnerable on Elvis Costello's "Almost Blue." She also really leans into the bluesy contours of Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk" and stretches outside the usual jazz vocal repertoire for dramatic readings of Steve Kuhn's "The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers" and the Seventies' r'n'b protest song, "People Make The World Go Round." Her performance throughout is enhanced by the flexible support of her band, especially Daniel Clarke on piano, Eddie Williams on saxophone and Chris Brydge on nimble double bass.

Kristen Lee Sergeant
Falling
Tiger Turn
2022

Vocalist Kristen Lee Sergeant wrote eight of the ten tracks on her album, sophisticated songs worthy of a stage musical and all built around the idea of letting go and taking chances. The music often changes rhythms and tempos within each song, keeping pace with Sergeant's dramatic performances. On "Chiaroscuro" her voice swoons seductively along with Jody Redhage Ferber's cello before Jeb Patton's piano starts to dominate as the tempo suddenly increases. "Honey" is a coquettish blues line with teasing lyrics that the leader coolly sings over swinging piano. "Birdsong" matches Sergeant's warm vocal with chirpy soprano sax from Ted Nash and "Orpheus" moves between jazz and waltz rhythms as Sergeant's voice blithely dances with the cello and piano.

Other aspects of Sergeant's singing come out on the two older songs located at the end of the album. On "Autumn Nocturne" she soars in a more formal manner over Patton's piano and she really acts out the lyrics on "That Old Black Magic" over her band's tumbling, quasi-Latin groove.

Katriona Taylor
Blind Passion
Self Produced
2022

Katriona Taylor is a British singer with a piercing, soulful voice. Legally blind since the age of seven, she does several songs here associated with other blind musicians like Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles as well as her own material. Her singing really shines on her own work, such as the soaring gospel-soul of "Things Have Changed," the bright bossa nova bounce of "Sunny Days" and the smoky neo-soul of "Fly Me To The Stars." She also really does well on the cover versions. She sounds excellent on a soulful samba version of Wonder's "Master Blaster," a smoky treatment of "Light My Fire" and a powerfully stark take on Leon Russell's "A Song For You" with piano and flute featured behind her.

Kristina Koller
Get Out Of Town
Self Produced
2022

Kristina Koller has drawn songs from a variety of sources in the past but for this album, she concentrates on the celebrated songbook of Cole Porter. She approaches his work in several different ways. "Get Out Of Town" keeps that song's traditional florid sweep, but r'n'b and funk undercurrents emerge on the rhythms of "What Is This Thing Called Love" and "Just One Of Those Things," modern and earthy arrangements that suit the sultry inflections of Koller's voice. Elsewhere she does a quietly yearning "In The Still of the Night" over minimalist piano and accompanies herself in "Every Time We Sat Goodbye" on jaunty ukulele. She also includes two unpublished Porter songs in the program, "Greek To You" which is played and sung with whispery elegance and "Why Don't We Try Staying Home," a fun bit of swinging jazz.

Natalie Cressman & Ian Faquini
Auburn Whisper
Cressman Music
2022

Life partners Natalie Cressman and Ian Faquini were supposed to go on tour in 2020 but the pandemic happened. Instead they had to hunker down at home like everyone else and spent their time making this album with Cressman's trombone, Faquini's guitar as the only ingredients, crafting their blend of jazz and pastoral Brazilian-inflected folk music into a lush, romantic panorama of voice, guitar and multiple trombones.

The mixture comes out really unique on tracks like "Bencao De Iansa" as the couple's intimate singing front a wave of dramatic guitar and a chorus of darting overdubbed trombones., highlighted by Cressman's buttery solo. "Cazadero" spotlights Faquini's romantic tenor singing and "Already There" has Cressman's lovely, high voice floating over dreamy trombone harmonies that could have come out of the Stan Kenton orchestra. The pair even lean in the direction of lazy country blues on "Hood River" with Faquini swooning over Cressman's vocal harmonies and a mass of sighing horns. Cressman and Faquini turned the enforced isolation of the lockdown into something magical.

Tracks and Personnel

It's All Right With Me

Tracks: People Make the World Go Round; It's All Right With Me; Night and Day; Blue Monk; Time After Time; I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out Of My Life; Fats Waller Medley: (Ain't Misbehavin,' The Jitterbug Waltz, Honeysuckle Rose); Almost Blue; The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers; Don't Get Around Much Anymore; What the World Needs Now.

Personnel: Liz Terrell: vocals; Daniel Clarke: piano; Chris Bryge: bass; Alan Parker: guitar; Eddie Williams: saxophone; Emre Kartari: drums.

Falling

Tracks: Let's Fall; Sisyphus; Birdsong; Chiaroscuro; Honey; Infinity Blues; Better Off; Orpheus; Autumn Nocturne; That Old Black Magic.

Personnel: Kristen Lee Sergeant: vocals; Jeb Patton: piano; Hannah Marks: bass; Jay Sawyer: drums; Jody Redhage Ferber: cello; Ted Nash: soprano saxophone.

Blind Passion

Tracks: Things Have Changed; It Don't Mean A Thing; In This Place; Fly Me To The Stars; Master Blaster; A Song For You; Makes Me Wanna Stay; Sunny Days; In The Name Of Love; My Cherie Amour; Light My Fire; As You See Me Now.

Personnel: Katriona Taylor: vocals; Vasilis Xenopoulos: tenor and soprano saxophones, flute; Robin Banerjee: guitar; Dominic Ashworth: Spanish guitar; John Crawford: piano, percussion; Peter Hammond: piano, electric piano, Hammond organ; Dave Jones: bass; Chris Nickolls: drums.

Get Out Of Town

Tracks: Get Out Of Town; What Is This Thing Called Love; Greek To You; It's All Right With Me; Why Don't We Try Staying Home; In The Still Of The Night; Just One Of Those Things; Every Time We Say Goodbye.

Personnel: Kristina Koller: vocals; Fima Chupakhin: piano; James Robbins: bass; Juan Chiavassa: drums.

Auburn Whisper

Tracks: Afoxe; Rear Window; Canaa; Auburn Whisper; Bencao De Iansa; Segredo De Dada; Cazadero; Curandeiro; Already There; Ralando Coco; Hood River; Doutor Escobar; Madrugada.

Personnel: Natalie Cressman: tenor trombone, bass trombone, vocals; Ian Faquini: guitar, vocals.

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