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November 2003

Connie Evingson
Let It Be Jazz: Connie Evingson Sings the Beatles
Summit

The closest Chris Connor ever came to investigating the Beatles' songbook was on Chris Connor Now!, her 1965 collection of contemporary covers (recently reissued on CD as a pricey Japanese import), which included a misty "Nowhere Man" among its dozen tracks. If, however, you'd like to know what a full-length Connor sojourn through Lennon-McCartney material might sound like, all you have to do is pick up a copy of Minneapolis chanteuse Connie Evingson's latest, Let It Be Jazz (Summit). The vocal similarity between Evingson and the mid-'60s Connor is downright spooky. You'd swear it was Chris navigating the soaring trajectory of "Blackbird" and adding an unexpected, but decidedly appealing, sultriness to "From Me to You." Which is not to suggest that there's nothing original about Evingson. Her range is significantly wider than Connor's, her style steeped more in the lighthearted pop-jazz tradition of, say, Joanie Sommers or Stacey Kent than the cooler jazz lineage of Connor and her sister canaries from the Stan Kenton school. The differences between the two are most evident on peppier numbers like "When I'm 64" (deliciously reheated as a simmering samba) and "Good Day Sunshine," where Evingson's fizzy boisterousness (never a Connor trademark) sparkles best. Let It Be Jazz ably proves that Evingson is another Midwesterner (Connor originally hailed from Kansas City) deserving of widespread popularity.

Originally published in November 2003
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