Modern composers of jazz vocal pieces have much to contend with: first, the Great American Song Book. Jazz was largely developed from learned reinterpretation of Tin Pan Alley standards composed as showtunes in the 1930s through '50s. That is a dearth of music already existing that anything newly composed is compared against. So, hats off to all who try their hand at newly composed jazz vocal music. That said, Philadelphia vocalist Ella Gahnt has been doing exactly that over the course of three recording: Immaculate Union (Self Produced, 2001); By Request (Self Produced, 2006) and the present Third Stage of Elegance.
In the first two recordings, Gahnt inserted her well-crafted compositions in among time-tested standards. Third Stage of Elegance features nine original compositions presented with a simple piano jazz format. Gahnt's lyrics are decidedly adult. With whiplash inducing swing, Gahnt strolls through "What You'll Hear from Me" with a confident swagger and sway. Listen to "When You Walk Away" and you hear the protagonist of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" after 35 years of marriage. She takes chances with the deeper psychology of plowed into her lyrics. These pay off when combined with her smart delivery and scat chops. Third Stage of Elegance is the next step, an important one for Ella Gahnt.
Track Listing: What You’ll Hear from Me; Let It Be Yesterday; Butterfly; To Be; A Gloomy Day; Some Other Spring; When You Walk Away; What Would it Take; The Golden Years.
Personnel: Ella Gahnt: vocals; Adam Faulk: piano; Lee Smith: bass; Harry “Butch” Reed: drums, percussion; Aaron Graves: piano (3,7).