With the help of accompanist - Music Director Bruce Barth, New Orleans native LaVerne Butler gains a renewed strength and exquisite delivery to release Love Lost and Found Again.
Unlike numerous of her contemporaries that go way over the top with vocal runs and tricks that are at best self indulgent, Butler relies on the less is more principle. Subtle nuances of phrasing, timing, and tone are her strengths that allow for a more natural approach to her craft. Barth allows Butler the opportunity to play to her strengths by turning a set of standards and jazz tunes from ordinary to extraordinary. Barth is simply brilliant and when you round out the 4tet with Houston Person on tenor, Ugonna Okegwo on bass and Rudy Royston on drums then you have an all star line up that is simply m-o-n-e-y! HighNote and Savant are well known for their incredible vocalists and Butler's debut shows why they are held in such high regard. Person may be the most versatile tenor player on the planet. Barth has an incredible harmonic sense that sets him well ahead of his contemporaries handling similar projects. Okegwo and Royston round out a rhythm section that is as tight and can swing as hard as any.
The tunes here border more on the eclectic or "forgotten" gem series and include "Travelin' Light" and "That's All." While Butler's prolific talent bless her with the ability to sing anything, moving away from a set of predictable standards has proven to be a wise move. Love Lost and Found Again works incredibly well thanks to Barth's arrangements and Butler's impeccable delivery. This is a perfect pairing which is exemplified with the uptempo arrangement of "That's All" which has an infectious yet deceptively subtle swing that stays with you. Another incredible arrangement delivered with style is the Charlie Chaplin standard "Smile." The incredibly tasty reharm here features Okegwo's bass and the lyrical style of Royston on drums.
A great many of you are probably familiar with LaVerne Butler but if you are not familiar with this release you are missing out. Butler is indeed the real deal. A vocalist that works with style, elegance and grace to transform a song into a lyrical story where she invites you along for the ride. A true vocal artist.
4 out of 5 Stars.
Tracks: Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home; Be A Sweet Pumpkin; I've Told Ev'ry Little Star; Everybody's Somebody's Fool; The Bluest Blues; Travelin Light; That's All; Be Anything (But Be Mine); In My Own Little Corner; I'll Never Be Free; Smile.
Personnel: LaVerne Butler: vocals; Houston Person: tenor saxophone (except on 3,7,9,11); Bruce Barth: piano, arrangements; Ugonna Okegwo: bass; Rudy Royston: drums.