Bye Bye Blackbird
Manchester Craftsmen's Guild
It speaks volumes about the marginalization of vocal jazz that a singer as fine as Kevyn Lettau can be around long enough, and recorded often enough, to boast a discography that includes a "greatest hits" compilation yet remain relatively unknown. (Indeed, so underappreciated is Lettau in North America that I'll bet most readers don't now the Kevyn in question is a she). Here's hoping Lettau's hard-won distribution deal (her first in the U.S. in a decade), with Pittsburgh's admirably venturesome Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, will get her the fat slice of the domestic spotlight she's too long been denied.
Fortunately, Lettau's latest is an immensely marketable collection of standards (her first) bathed in creamy arrangements by guitarist Dori Caymmi (who also conducts, and plays on five of the 11 tracks). This enjoyably laid-back affair, reminiscent of the easygoing Bob James, may not represent Lettau at her most dynamic (for that seek out Police, her 2000 tribute to Sting and company, or the Japan-only The Language of Flowers from '98). But if Bye Bye Blackbird gets her on America's jazz radar, that's good enough for now.