286

Jackie Allen: The Men in My Life

Samuel Chell By

Sign in to view read count
Jackie Allen: The Men in My Life I first caught Jackie Allen ten or twelve years ago when she was working a lounge in Milwaukee with keyboardist Mel Rhyne. She was obviously a "natural," as talented and hip as she was wide-eyed and innocent (with a Wisconsin wholesomeness). As this album will attest, she's wiser and more seasoned, and she's definitely outgrown Milwaukee.

Jackie Allen has a vocal quality to die for: it's warm, breathy, and sultry in the middle register, retains its lightness in the low tones but blossoms radiantly in the upper register (she must have a good three octaves at her disposal). The contour of her instrument is even: there are no detectable "breaks" between a chest and head voice, and there's never a sense that she's favoring a "comfort zone" of pitches. Yet she manages to impress with her vocal strengths without seeming to try.

There's an inherently folkish timbre to Allen's tones. Thank God she chooses, for the most part, to eschew that genre per se (which the employment of guitar could make even more tempting).

Bill Evans demonstrated that, separated from its original context, Paul Simon's music ("I Do It for Your Love") could be transformed into something sublime. Unfortunately, Allen doesn't make the same case for Simon's "Still Crazy." Also, the meterless treatment of Bacharach's "This Guy's in Love with You" risks rigor mortis, especially when guitarist Moulder lays out on the fills. And Allen's "One Mint Julep" is likely to leave a hangover with its distorted guitar, shot-and-a-beer treatment.

But the other eight tracks are all winners: there's no better voice than Allen's for making "Come Fly with Me" an exotic trip to the South Seas, for executing the pyrotechnical phrasing of "Spain," for scatting good-naturedly on "You Could Be Fred," or restoring a pristine pathos to Mercer's lyric for "Fools Rush In."

This is probably Jackie Allen's best all-around album to date. Hearing her with this ensemble live, I realized what a strong stage presence she has, despite an occasionally shaky presentation. In these post- Fitzgerald, post-Vaughan times, it must be tough to convince yourself you're the "star" and that your musicians are accompanists, not co-equals. The vocalist can afford to restrict both their solos and the mentioning of their names. And when the audio balance is off (most frequently, with overly amplified bass), a glare or quick comment in the direction of the offending player or board operator can earn her important extra space. But in terms of this excellent CD, the advantage is all in the listener's favor.


Track Listing: 1. Still Crazy 2. Come Fly With Me 3. Dindi 4. Spain 5. You Could Be Fred 6. This Guy's In Love With You 7. The Bad And The Beautiful 8. Mexico 9. Tea In The Sahara 10. One Mint Julip 11. Fools Rush In

Personnel: Jackie Allen, vocals; John Moulder, guitar; Hans Sturm, bass; Dane Richeson, percussion; Ben Lewis, piano; Orbert Davis, trumpet; Kurt Elling, vocal.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: A440 Music | Style: Vocal


Shop

Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Sara Gazarek Sara Gazarek
vocalist
Dakota Staton Dakota Staton
vocalist
Tierney Sutton Tierney Sutton
vocalist
Jacintha Jacintha
vocalist
Norah Jones Norah Jones
piano
Eden Atwood Eden Atwood
vocalist
Karrin Allyson Karrin Allyson
vocalist
Annie Ross Annie Ross
vocalist
Chris Connor Chris Connor
vocalist
Nnenna Freelon Nnenna Freelon
vocalist
Lee Wiley Lee Wiley
vocalist

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Reliquia" CD/LP/Track Review Reliquia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 30, 2016
Read "Oratorios and Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Oratorios and Songs
by John Eyles
Published: October 18, 2016
Read "The Caustic Ballads" CD/LP/Track Review The Caustic Ballads
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 27, 2016
Read "The Journey" CD/LP/Track Review The Journey
by James Nadal
Published: January 5, 2017
Read "What Doesn’t Kill You" CD/LP/Track Review What Doesn’t Kill You
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "Steam In The Casa" CD/LP/Track Review Steam In The Casa
by Nicola Negri
Published: August 15, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!