Sharon Marie Cline – This Is Where I Wanna Be
Carrying on the smoky-voiced tradition of an artist like the late, great Sarah Vaughan, Los Angeles-based songstress Sharon Marie Cline paints her way through a program of a dozen classic and original tunes on her new album, This Is Where I Wanna Be. Her phrasing is inventive, often creatively arresting. Her interpretations are molded emotionally and musically rich. This is a voice to be reckoned with.
Along with a sultry rendition of a well known tune like the Gershwins’ “How Long Has This Been Going On” and a jumping take on the hoary “Deed I Do,” she pumps some new life into a lesser known piece like “If Dreams Come True.” She takes “Happy Talk,” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, a song I never had much use for, and transforms it almost magically. “I Wanna Be Loved” is a show stopper, and a pop hit like “Laughter in the Rain” might well become a jazz hit in her hands. Her closer, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” shows what she can do with the bossa nova, and she can do a lot.
Of the two original pieces written with Rich Eames, Cline’s musical director and piano/keyboardist on all tracks, the album’s title song is an atmospheric bossa nova, and “Sugar on My Lips,” which adds Mark Winkler as co-lyricist, gets a sexy down and dirty groove.
If This Is Where I Wanna Be is any indication, Sharon Marie Cline is going to be making a lot more music, and that is a lucky thing for lovers of fine jazz vocals.
Kate Ross – People Make the World Go Round
Unlike many jazz singers making their recording debut who season their playlist with a heaping cup of tried and true ingredients and add a pinch or two of original material for flavor, Kate Ross’s recipe calls for new original material from local musicians with only a nod to the standards. It is a brave choice; new singer, new work—a lot can go wrong. Fortunately, while there are some missteps among the eight tunes that make up her setlist, there is enough interesting music played with passionate commitment and sung with emotional intensity to make up for them.
She opens with “Jazz,” a melodic swinger perfect for her voice, backed up by some sweet solo work from Caleb Hutslar on keyboards and Craig McMullen on guitar. “Up Into the Big Blue Sound” is another fine swinger featuring the alto sax of A. C. Collins, and the sentimental “Home to Me” is a tender melody. The album’s title song is somewhat unusual in its economic/political message, but it works well. She closes with the only cover on the set, a classy version of that can’t miss standard “Without a Song,” and she hits it out of the park.
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