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If you think nothing new is happening in the world of jazz vocalists, it's time to listen to Devorah Day. Her 2003 debut, Light of Day (Abaton Book Company), was a revelation, and now she follows up with the equally strong Standard. Day is gifted with a one-of-a-kind voice: her range is astounding, and her phrasing highly original and unexpected. But while Day has great skill, she employs no artifice, and this gives her a powerful authenticity; she has the emotional honesty found in all the great jazz singers, an uncompromising clarity that expresses the heart of a song.
Standard finds her in the illustrious company of Dominic Duval, one of jazz's most important bassists, and their duet is an inspired pairing. Day and Duval match their gifts to a wide range of standards, as well as Day's composition "Come Closer" and an improvisation entitled "Four Dees." Day dives deep into the poignancy of "Good Morning, Heartache," "Yesterday," and "When Sunny Gets Blue," and she gives a unique interpretation to "Them There Eyes," "Just One of Those Things," and "Ain't Misbehavin'." Day's fractured cohesion and strong fragility invest the songs with a thoroughly modern sensibility, and Duval's subtle bass gives Day both the background and space needed to make the songs her own.
It's also quite impressive that Standard was recorded in CIMP's legendary Spirit Room, live to two tracks with no alteration whatsoever. At this point the label has 200 releases to its credit, forming a veritable library of improvised music. Standard proves once again that you can't pigeonhole CIMP, which might be one of the last labels expected to release a CD with songs by Cole Porter and Lennon/McCartney. But CIMP prides itself on standing out of the artist's way, and happily they gave Day all the freedom she needed. Like Thelonious Monk, standards provide Day with a perfect jumping off point, a means to give full range to her unique conception and artistry.