Butterfly Blue, the June release from vocalist Halie Loren, is on the 58th Grammys ballot for well deserved consideration in the “Best Vocal Jazz Album” category. The dynamic album takes its title from two of its original songs, Loren’s own “Butterfly” and “Blue” from guitarist Daniel Gallo. Taken together, they are intended as an indication of the album’s thematic connection which the singer suggests is the need to find a way through moments of pain and sadness to new and even more beautiful experiences—much the way a caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly.
Whether you buy the metaphor or not needn’t affect your pleasure in the music. Halie Loren can sing with the best of them, and song after song, she makes that clear.
The album is an intelligent mix of standards and original material, once in a while leaning to pop, more often creative, straightforward jazz. Songs like Gallo’s “After the Fall” and Loren’s “Danger in Loving You” have a real noir sound right out of a 1940s black and white flick. Just listen to Rob Birdwell’s flugelhorn on the former and Joe Freuen’s trombone highlights on the latter. Loren’s vocals are on the money. On the other hand, she opens the set with her own more pop-oriented “Yellow Bird” – still punctuated here with some sweet vocalise.
Her work on the classic material tends toward creative interpretation. And although her treatment of a tearful warhorse like “Stormy Weather” is a little too upbeat for my taste, she takes a tune like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and knocks it out of the park. “Our Love Is Here to Stay” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” are winners. “I Wish You Love,” with some of the original French lyrics thrown in, is magical. She closes on a high with Horace Silver’s “Peace.”
With solid album after solid album, this has been a great year for vocal jazz. Butterfly Blue belongs on any long award list.
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