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It's about time somebody said itRebecca Parris is the real thing. Her voice speaks of years of experience but her melodic and harmonic inventiveness, rhythmic playfulness and different way with a lyric are all eternally young and new.
You Don't Know Me, on a new label, is a rich and full program of tunes from our American Songbookwith a Brazilian evergreen thrown in for good, very good, measure. The voice is perhaps darker than it has been in the past but it's a darkness that speaks of the wisdom that comes with not just age but also with the diligence of learning to love and overcome fears. Her trioBrad Hatfield on keyboards, Peter Kontrimas on bass and Matt Gordy on drums (on the title track, Jim Lattini replaces Gordy)find the grooves to sing with Parris and take the same joy in invention and exploration. And the singer calls in some other grand old friendsGary Burton, with whom she made one of her earliest recordings, and saxophonists Jerry Bergonzi and Houston Person.
One of the recording's many high points is on the "Yesterdays/We'll Be Together Again medley. Bergonzi floats over a gently Brazilian groove inviting Parris to dig, but not get hooked, into the bittersweet lyrics. And then she does a funny thingin the middle of the bridge she finds the beginning of "Together and with the same groove lets us know that she's found hope. It's a beautiful, natural transition.
A word about scat singing: I admit to a fondness for its absence, generally, but Parris uses it to tell stories and as just one in a veritable treasure-trove of techniques. As the title implies, this is an album about knowledgethe singer's assured knowledge of songs and singing and also a way for us to get to know the joys of true improvisation.
Track Listing: Weaver of Dreams; I Didn't Know About You; All of You; You Don't Know Me; Lush Life; I Didn't Know What Time It Was; Yesterdays/We'll Be Together Again; Don't Go to Strangers; I Wish I Knew; My Ship; Alone Together; Desafinado; Too Late Now; East of the Sun; Smile.
Personnel: Rebecca Parris: vocals; Brad Hatfield: piano, synthesizer; Peter Kontrimas: bass; Matt Gordy: drums (1-3, 5-15);
Jim Lattini: drums (4); Jerry Bergonzi: tenor saxophone (6, 7, 9, 11, 14); Gary Burton: vibes: (3, 10, 15); Houston
Person: tenor saxophone (1, 4, 8).
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.