Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Grace Kelly Live At Scullers Pazz 2012

O.K. I promised I would be taking some time off. I promise a lot of things...I first "discovered" Kelly's immeasurable talent thanks to Man With The Hat which is somewhat of a duet recording with the great Phil Woods. Live At Scullers is a remarkable live recording which street on 02/5/13. While this may seem a tad early for a review, mark your calendar and spend those gift cards wisely! Technically this is a 2013 release despite recording and production etc. happening in 2012 but let us not quibble over minor details.

Grace Kelly is only twenty and is all ready the rarest of commodities on the jazz scene today. As instrumentalist, composer, arranger and even vocalist, Kelly has elevated her superior talents to a level few could match but ... Kelly has recently signed a deal with a smooth jazz outfit which cause me great concern. Never have I heard such a hard and naturally swing come from such a fiercely talented young lady with my hope that this recent career move does not cause her approach to change.

Live At Scullers is right up Kelly's wheelhouse with tunes such as "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Summertime." The band itself is essentially a sextet that thanks to creative instrumentation including ukulele and cello turns into a hybrid jazz orchestra. Outside of the previously mentioned standards, Kelly focuses on new material that is rock solid and far more lyrically based than previous recordings (something I predicted that would happen last year). A happen medium? Is this possible and is this what jazz has been longing for? In a word, yes. There is even a country touch added to the beautiful ballad "Kiss Away Your Tears." Where Kelly's talents shine are the arrangements of the last two "standards" especially with the groove oriented hook laden version of "Summertime." Kelly does a masterful job in finding the necessary sonic balance by including the burner "Searching For Peace."

Arguments still rage on. Smooth jazz, contemporary instrumental, or straight ahead but after working with Randy Jackson from American Idol allow me to creatively acquire one of his lines...

"That girl can play the phone book!"

Tracks: Please Don't Box Me In; Eggshells; Night Time Star; Autumn Song; Ready, Set, Stay; Searching For Peace; Kiss Away Your Tears; Falling; The Way You Look Tonight; Summertime.

Personnel: Grace Kelly: vocals/saxophone; Jason Palmer: trumpet; Zach Brown: bass; Pete McCann: guitars, ukulele; Mark Walker: drums; Eric Law: cello; Jaime Woods & Chantale Sterling: backing vocals.