Other Views – May/June

May 1, 2020

By Joe Lang

(Continued from the May-June issue of Jersey Jazz Magazine)

Vocalist GLORIA REUBEN and guitarist MARTY ASHBY are paired up for a nice 10-tune outing on For All We Know (MCG Jazz – 1051).  This is an understated collection by two artists who connect beautifully on their first collaboration.  Reuben has a welcoming voice that is complemented by Ashby’s sensitive accompaniment.  They have chosen a well-balanced program, mostly familiar songs like “I’ll Close My Eyes,” “A Time for Love,” “Time After Time,” “For All We Know,” “ I Get Along Without You Very Well,” “Maybe You’ll Be There,” “How High the Moon” and “Where Do You Start,”  It was nice to hear the too rarely performed “The People That You Never Get to  Know” by Rupert Holmes, and “Sing My Heart,” a mostly neglected gem by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler.  The album clocks in at a rather brief 34 minutes, but it is 34 minutes of wonderful listening.  (www.mcgjazz.com)

NAOMI & HER HANDSOME DEVILS is a group just made for the swing dance set.  Put together by Minneapolis-based vocalist Naomi Uyama, she has recruited a first-class band of jazz cats from several places for her latest album, Live at the Uptown Swingout (Self-produced).  The personnel includes Jonathan Doyle on reeds, Gordon Au on trumpet, Charlie Halloran on trombone, Jake Sanders on guitar, Dalton Ridenhour on piano, Jared Engel on bass and Josh Collazo on drums.  The 15 songs are good old good old ones, the likes of “Sweet Sue, “Let Yourself Go,” “Mood Indigo,” “Am I Blue,” “I’m Crazy ‘Bout My Baby” and “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone.”  Naomi captures the feeling of a Swing Era singer, and the band is wonderfully intense and swinging.  If you dig good time music, especially if you like cutting a rug, you will love this album.  (naomisdevils.com)

Back in 2013, the heralded vocal trio DUCHESS, Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner and Melissa Stylianou, had their first gig at the 55 Bar in New York City.  They only had enough material to fill one set, but the promise that they showed captured those present immediately.  Within two years, they had released their first album, and had headlined at an event dedicated to the group who inspired their formation, The Boswell Sisters.  They are now well-established, well-traveled and well-known.  Their third album, Live at the Jazz Standard (Anzic – 0066) has them singing a 12-song program spiced with their typical spunkily humorous between song patter.  The ladies fill their arrangements with challenging harmonies and tempo changes, taking turns singing the lead parts and the harmonies.  As mentioned, they were originally led to this kind of group singing by their fascination with The Boswell Sisters, as can be heard her on a selection like “Heebie Jeebies, but other groups like The Andrews Sisters also influenced them.  From their opener, “(We) Love Being Here with You” to the closing notes of “Everybody Loves My Baby,” these ladies demonstrate that they are fine singers who have the proper chemistry to blend their individual talents into a cohesive group sound.  It is good to have a recording that captures the special experience that is a live show by Duchess.  (www.duchesstrio.com)

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