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Brenda Earle has a well-trained, sweet-sounding, pure voice and piano and songwriting skills that are displayed ably in this, her fifth album. The New York-based Canadian native is abetted by Ike Sturm (bass), Jackie Lewis (guitars) and Jared Schonig (drums), as well as guest appearances of one track each by saxophonist Joel Frahm and cellist Lauren Riley-Rigby.
The material is an array of standards, original compositions and covers of songs by Top 40 artists ranging from Crowded House to Marc Anthony. Basically, Earle is a singer with a wide vocal range (who apparently is now studying classical voice) and while she likes to put herself in a jazz-oriented environment, her vocal performances are of the good pop variety.
Among the originals is the title song, with an interestingly constructed melody by Frahm and a positive message in the Earle lyric, an example of how well these two work together. Earle's other originals are penned to put her vocal qualities in the best light and there is even a slight lean toward the folk genre, with mostly ballad feels and introspective lyrics. Her piano work is another story; it is there that her jazz instincts are able to come out and her improvisational skills are apparent. She has a light touch and a tasty approach to her solos.
Notable among the standards is the little done Hammerstein/Kern tune "Nobody Else But Me," played in a breezy manner with smooth work by Lewis and Earle swinging the piano. Another track worth mentioning is "So I Say," a high energy, fast samba that highlights the piano and has a scatting intro and outro. Even with the fast pace of this tune, Earle's perfect diction makes the lyrics understandable. These tracks could get some good radio play. The Marc Anthony cover, "Valio La Pena," is done in precise Spanish. The one thing though that is puzzling is the key Earle has chosen for her rendition of "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To." Although it shows off her soprano range, at times it becomes shrill and doesn't help the interpretation.
Track Listing: You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To; Is It Any Wonder?; The Waltz; Valio La Pena; All These Questions; Song For A New Day; Nobody Else But Me; Don't Dream It's Over; A Few Lines; So I Say (Sal Dessa); Standing.
Personnel: Brenda Earle: vocals/piano/Fender Rhodes(tracks 9 and 11); Ike Sturm: bass; Jesse Lewis: guitars; Jared Schonig: drums; Joel Frahm: saxophone (track 6); Lauren Riley-Rigby (track 2).
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.