Kathleen Grace hails from Tucson, Ariz., and wails in Los Angeles. She boasts a three-octave voice, and her self-released debut album deserves a wider audience—so major labels, step up. Her range of feelings embraces straightahead, theater, cabaret and smoky, intimate, small hours vocalizing. Mood swings and tricky modulations are effortless thanks to the disciplined backing by pianist Tamir Hendelman, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Jamey Tate.
Grace oozes self-confidence and has the sort of intonation that allows her to introduce two tunes a cappella: “But Not for Me,” propelled by brushes (she gamely sings in unison with piano during brief exchanges with drums), plus her solo introduction of Johnny Mandel’s gorgeous “Emily.” She effortlessly juggles 5/4 and 4/4 in “I’ve Got the World on a String” and exhibits her personal scat on Wayne Shorter’s “Armageddon.”
A passionate highlight for piano and voice is “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise,” a great study in dynamic shadings, all evolving from a sensuous tango figure.