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Holli Ross: You'll See

Edward Blanco By

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An ensemble performer for two decades, and co-founder of the String Of Pearls vocal group, jazz vocalist and educator Holli Ross offers her first solo album on the thirteen-track You'll See. Presenting unique interpretations of songs from Duke Ellington, Peggy Lee and Laura Nyro to new material from Brazilian trumpet icon Claudio Roditi and bassist Rufus Reid—both of whom grace this recording—Ross affirms the label from the late jazz critic Stuart Troup, who once dubbed her "the voice of experience." A wonderful lyricist who can make the words come a live with her vocal expressions, Ross is also an experienced writer, having penned the lyrics to many jazz instrumental compositions—as she does here.

In 1969, the 5th Dimension released the number one hit single "Wedding Bell Blues," by Laura Nyro, set to a familiar mid-tempo groove. A new arrangement here, by Ross and pianist Ted Rosenthal, opens You'll See as a slow, sweet ballad. The singer takes to some tasteful scatting on the Fields/Kern standard "Pick Yourself Up," with Rosenthal and Reid providing the solos. Ross is at her best with finessed performances on songs from The Great American Songbook, delivering gorgeous renditions to Leonard Bernstein's "Lucky To Be Me," Ellington's classic "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me" and "Alone Together," and Harold Arlen's immortal "If I Only Had A Heart."

Roditi and Ross co-wrote the spiciest track of the set, "Forty Three After," a delicious taste of Brazil on which the singer scats again, swinging to the trumpeter's muted horn solos. Reid introduces "Elegy" with his usual propulsive bass lines, a piece co-authored with Ross and also featuring outstanding solo work from Roditi. Reid and Ross join forces again in a duet performance of Oscar Pettiford's brief but sweet "Tricotism."

Lee's "I Don't Know Enough About You" provides the only real blues of the album, complete with a trombonist Dennis Wilson's instrumental shuffle. The title piece is a beautiful ballad reflecting feelings of love and desire like only Ross can convey in what is the knock-out performance of the album. "Swinging to that swinging Café Suite" are just a few of the lyrics aptly describing the moving melody from the last Roditi/Ross collaboration and set finale, "Café Suite."

Though her first solo effort without an ensemble or vocal group format, You'll See is a serious jazz vocals album from a singer who knows how to present a song with a measure of elegance. A seasoned artist with an impressive résumé, Ross finally steps out on her own and, with this date, claims consideration as a top-tier jazz vocalist.

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