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November 2006

Nancy Kelly
Born to Swing
Amherst Records

The title says it all. This infectious blonde bombshell has all the confidence of a horn player when she swings: Just press the right key or valve and out comes the right…no, the precise note. Listen to “Falling In Love With Love.” She shows the same control when she chooses a ballad, meaning she can manipulate her “instrument” and at the same time juggle those things called lyrics. For that, listen to “More Than You Know” and “Didn’t We.” Now add tenorist Houston Person to the mix and a magic is created that Kelly describes most eloquently in her liner notes: “Houston developed his signature way to converse with a singer, accenting lyrics with his musical comments…” That special rapport is illustrated in the way-up “Let Me Off Uptown” when they both felt the need for an exclamation mark at the same time, eliciting a cute laugh from Nancy. Person knows how to make use of space. Dig “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “New York State of Mind.” Kudos to pianist Dino Losito for his comping and soloing.

Originally published in November 2006
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