Finally! The pretty girl can sing! Whitney James is a vocalist with unlimited potential!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
As a rule standards underwhelm me, they have been done to death and usually not well. Whitney James and her 2010 release The Nature Of Love have been hiding out in the jazz witness protection program. If you are going to go old school then at least have some imaginative arrangements and a band that is something more than an afterthought. The Nature Of Love covers these bases and covers them well. The arrangements are deceptively subtle yet have a more smoldering contemporary riff running just below the surface. Arrangements on tunes such as "Tenderly" and "The Very Thought Of You" are the vocal equivalent of the sexy little black dress while the Bennie Golson / L.Feather composition "Whisper Not" takes a far more eclectic approach to another memorable tune. Another tune worth of note here is the Abby Lincoln tune entitled "My Love Is You." Each tune is a perfect vehicle for Whitney to explore and with an exemplary band there is nothing too deep catalog for this ensemble cast to nail and with minimal effort.
Similar vocalists bang out a record of mostly standards as nothing more than a quick payday and hopefully some A list session players to fill out the ensemble cast. Whitney brings in the incredible Ingrid Jensen on trumpet and highly regarded bassist Matt Clohesy. Jon Wikan handles the drum and percussion duties with finesse while pianist Joshua Wolff round out the band and elevates his own work past that of accompanist into a delightful harmonic counterpoint that James seems to thrive on. The overly crowded pack of female vocalists affords no artist the luxury of having a misstep with Whitney James nailing her performance down with exceptional timing, timbre and that innate ability of connectivity that some singers twenty years her senior have tried to reach but have failed in the attempt.
Does she reinvent the vocal jazz wheel? No. Any real surprises? No. What we are left with is an exceptional vocalist that is deserving of far wider recognition than merely having this release pop up on www.amazon.com. Whitney James is a formidable vocalist with seemingly all the intangibles that one needs to take that next big step, not if but when!
Tracks: Tenderly; Whisper Not; A Timeless Place; Long Ago And Far Away; My Love Is You; The Very Thought Of You; How Deep Is The Ocean; Be Anything; In April.
Personnel: Ingrid Jensen: Trumpet & Flugelhorn; Joshua Wolff: Piano; Matt Clohesy: Bass; Jon Wikan: Drums & Percussion.
Sadly Joshua Wolff passed away earlier this year from liver and pancreatic cancer. He is truly missed.