Although this is a debut release, Shirley Crabbe is a mature singer, performing a well-selected repertoire in displaying considerable talent. Shirley's late arrival as a recording artists resulted from vocal problems eventually solved through surgery and it is a delight to hear her voice, which is full and rich and used with subtle flair and very good taste. Shirley's accompanists here are pianists Donald Vega and Jim West, bassist John Burr and drummer Alvester Garrett, who make up the core trio. They are joined by guest soloists Brandon Lee, Dave Glasser, Matt Haviland and Houston Person, all of whom contribute significantly to the proceedings. That said, this CD is a showcase for an exceptionally gifted artist who must surely appeal to all who love good jazz singing and can now hear her for the first time.
Claire Dickson Scattin' Doll (Naftule's Dream NDR 102)
This remarkable young singer was the recent winner of Down Beat's award as Best Jazz Vocalist, Junior High School Level, and on this, her first CD, it is clear to see why. Some tracks were recorded when Claire Dickson was aged 12, some at 13, and she is without question a singer to look out for, not just now but for the next several decades. Here, she takes her repertoire from the books of Parker, Ellington and Hampton, a few of the classic pop song composers, and performs everything with enormous confidence. Surely no one coming to this singer blindfolded would think she is so young - okay, so here and there are a few tiny touches that suggest her voice is not yet as strong as it will become, but throughout Claire displays startling maturity of purpose and understanding. Claire's accompanying trio, Michael McLaughlin, Greg Loughman and Eric Rosenthal, support her ably as do guest horns Gary Bohan, Dan Fox and Glenn Dickson on three tracks, but this is a showcase for the singer and one that should have wide appeal as will anything she might do in the future. Surely, this is the birth of a major jazz singing talent.
Definitely the place to go if, like me, you have a thing about singers, is this Jazz Singers' Site where you will find links to dozens of singers; featuring biographies, discographies, venues, comments, thoughts, contact addresses, and more. This is an absolute must for fans of singers.
DIVA TNT - A Tommy Newsome Tribute (Diva Jazz Lightyear 54698-2)
This strikingly good big band has been around now for a dozen years and good as it was to start with, and it was very good indeed, it is even better now. The leader of DIVA is drummer Sherrie Maricle who has been there from the start and although the personnel has undergone some changes over the years it has always been first class. On this outing there are no weak links and very nearly everyone gets a chance to solo. Although it might be invidious to select just a few for special mention, because all are so good, especially notable is the playing of Barbara Loronga, trumpet, Karolina Strassmeyer, alto saxophone, Lisa Parrott, baritone saxophone, Chihiro Yamanaka, piano, and Anat Cohen on both tenor saxophone and clarinet. Special mention must be made of the arrangements; as the album title suggests these are by Tommy Newsome and they are ideal for this band, which in its ensemble playing shifts from fiery to mellow with fluid ease. This is top class big band music played with panache and style and is very warmly recommended.
Five Play What The World Needs Now (Arbors ARCD 19381)
The DIVA Jazz Trio Never Never Land (Arbors ARCD 19393)
Two outstanding small groups drawn from the remarkable musicians gathered together as DIVA under Sherrie Maricle are presented on the second pair of CDs. Five Play is a quintet with Jami Dauber on trumpet, cornet and flügelhorn, Janelle Reichman on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Tomoko Ohno on piano and Noriko Ueda on bass, while just the latter pair join Sherrie on the CD by the trio. The music on both of these CDs is exceptional: sparkling solos, delightful ensemble playing, and throughout there is terrific swing, plain delight in performance and altogether some of the best jazz around today. These are musicians of the highest calibre and any or all of these albums should be high on anyone's shopping list.