With a name like Smucker’s it has to be good; and with a name like Coltrane (even though unrelated to that Coltrane) it has to be even better. Carrie Coltrane’s a decent singer, but if The First Time is supposed to be a Jazz album it lands considerably short of the mark (unless one broadens the definition to include “smooth Jazz” or “crossover”). The material is uncompromisingly pop, and appending a few reputable Jazz musicians can’t make it anything else. Coltrane has a smooth, seductive and moderately generic mid–range voice that she uses to good effect, and the backing is so innocuously well–mannered that so–called “Jazz radio stations” should be hungering to give the album wide exposure. There are strings on a couple of numbers, groups ranging from trio to sextet on others. All are there for window–dressing, as the Jazz content is negligible. Eugene McDaniels wrote two of the songs (including the familiar “Feel Like Making Love”), co–authored “Don’t Get Me Started” with Terry Silverlight, and added lyrics to Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green” and “Freddie Freeloader,” Masahiko Satoh’s “Evening Snow” and Carrie Thompson’s “Follow You Down.” Thompson composed “Love Me Where I Live” and is the lyricist on Charlie Ernst’s “Safe with Me” and Mark Lucas’ “River in the Desert.” Appropriately, the final selection, “Freddie Freeloader,” fades quietly into the sunset and out of one’s memory, as that is what the rest of the music does after a moment or so. Coltrane sings well enough; I suspect she can do better than this.
Track listing: Blue in Green; Love Me Where I Live; Don’t Get Me Started; Something Real; Evening Snow; Feel Like Makin’ Love; Safe with Me; River in the Desert; Follow You Down; Freddie Freeloader (53:23).
Track Listing: Sacred Silent Prayer; Love Me Where I Live; Don
Personnel: Carri Coltrane- vocals; Mark Lucas- acoustic guitar; Ron Carter- bass; Lewis Nash- drums; Ted Branaco- piano; Mayra Casales- congas, percussion; Matt Langley- soprano saxophone; Strings: Charlie Ernst- conductor, Maynard Goldman, John Harrison, Jason Horowitz, Greg Vitale, Jim Orient, John Baldwin, Sheila Vitale, Mark Paxson, Robert Curtis, Laura Jackson- violin; Jennifer Sterling, Graybert Beacham, Joli Wu- viola; David Finch, Theresa Borsodi- cello.
The world of jazz is a musical space with a complex history and haunting appeal--a space to revisit and celebrate. It’s that
amazing moment when you hear a really great song you haven't heard in years and you still know the tune and every word.