Recorded live at the Community Reformed Church, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Sparse offers up new ground for folk singer Jami Lynn. The album is a collaborative effort with bassist Andrew Reinartz and members of the JAS quintet. Sparse presents a modest reading of such jazz standards like "Autumn Leaves" and the Billie Holiday/Arthur Herzog Jr. blues ballad, "Don't Explain." Lynn infuses the latter song with romance, but the mood is hampered by the repeating floor tom beat of the drum.
Lynn's vocal is passable, but she seems less confident with this type of material. The band, while seasoned, offers up a rehearsal quality reading of the music. The highlight of the album is Lynn's own composition, "Doris Passing." Here her breezy vocal is ably supported by guitarist Dalton Coffey's twangy solo interlude. The song has a subtle bluesy bossa nova feel to it.
On the somber Welch/Rawlings tune "I Dream a Highway," the music takes a winsome high-plains drifter turn. Lynn's vocal is impassioned as she returns to her folk music roots. Unfortunately, the piano solo seems labored. The music recovers with a muted trumpet solo that merges with the saxophone to great effect. The album concludes with the title track "Sparse," a composition by Lynn and Reinartz. While pleasant enough, it's more show tune than jazz.
It's always great to welcome new talent to the music, and to that effect, Lynn and her crew should be applauded. However, it's important to realize that jazz is soulful and creative music. At its best, Sparse hits the right notes, but at the end of the day, the music is undermined by the up and down multi-style nature of the album.
Autumn Leaves; Baby, I Don’t Cry Over You; Don’t Explain; Doris Passing; I Dream a Highway; Sparse.
Jami Lynn: vocals, guitar; Andrew Reinartz: bass; Dalton Coffey: guitar; Jim Speirs: trumpet; Jeff Paul: piano; Joel Shotwell: sax; Daniel Heier: drums.
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