Julie Kelly is considered one of the best vocalists on the west coast, easy to see why!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Why is it all pretty girls think they can sing? More than just a pretty face, Julie Kelly is one of those rare triple threats in improvisational music. An acclaimed vocalist, lyricist and educator has Julie Kelly crawling inside a lyric but never getting in her own way. Nice! Happy to Be features some finely crafted original work and mercifully some more eclectic jewels from the Great America Songbook. Don't get me wrong, I love Cole Porter as well as the next critic but when you have reviewed the same five songs five hundred times then you really appreciate the song selection here. Song selection is everything!
Joining Julie we have Bill Cunliffe, Anthony Wilson, Joe LaBarbera and Bob Sheppard. The entire band functions with a synergy that is rare on recordings such as this. Old school with contemporary flair would be the best descriptions of tunes such as "High In The Sky" from Thad Jones and "Corcovado" from Antonio Carlos Jobim. Kelly is as technically proficient as she is artistically gifted and this shines through on some deep catalog tunes such as Phobe Snow's "Harpo's Blues."
Great tone, magnificent phrasing and the innate ability to sing with the band and not around them has Happy to Be one of the more entertaining vocal releases this year.
Tracks: Harpo's Blues; Happy To Be; Our Love Rolls On; You're The Dangerous Type; Corcovado; I Have The Feeling I've Been Here Before; The Blues According To Orpheus; I Wish I Could Go Traveling Again; I Never Went Away; High In The Sky; For Joni.
Personnel: Julie Kelly: Vocals; Bill Cunliffe: Piano / Synthesizer; Anthony Wilson: Guitar; Tom Warrington: Bass; Joe LaBarbera: Drums; Walter Rodriguez: Percussion; Bob Sheppard: Saxophone and Flute; Clay Jenkins: Trumpet; Ron Stout: Flugelhorn; Bob McChesney: Trombone; Kim Richmond: Saxophone; Nick Mancini: Vibes.