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January/February 2008

Amy London
When I Look In Your Eyes
Motema

Even the most ardent fan of the pop-jazz vocal idiom would be hard-pressed to identify Milt Weiner. But, as coach and teacher, Weiner helped shape two of the finest female singers to ever emerge from Ohio, Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney (and, yes, before you sharpen your pencils, I know Clooney hailed from Kentucky, but she did spend several of her formative years north of the Ohio River). Later, Weiner worked with another Ohioan, sculpting a voice of near-equal appeal but, subsequently, only a fraction of the eminence. That voice belongs to Amy London, and it’s been around a good while, as a centerpiece of various Broadway musicals, as one-third of the popular Manhattan vocal trio Jazz Babies, on tour with the likes of George Benson, Charles Aznavour and Dr. Lonnie Smith and on recordings by Barry Harris, Fred Hersch and the New York Voices.

Now, at last, London is stepping out in front, with her first album as leader. And what a cornucopia of delights it is, as she wraps her sterling pipes around a dozen wide-ranging tracks. In honor of one her earliest musical heroes, Laura Nyro, she delivers a caressingly wistful “Lazy Susan.” To salute her home state, she lends precisely the right mix of longing and loneliness to Leonard Bernstein’s “Ohio,” then reverses her homesickness by twining it with a breezy “Anyplace I Hang My Hat Is Home.” She’s all wide-eyed ebullience on the Johnny Mathis signature tune “Wonderful, Wonderful,” cool as autumn twilight on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s mournful “Passarim,” then steamy as a Caribbean heat wave on an Annie Ross-worthy “Swingin’ the Blues.” In short, as many a sage New Yorker already knows, hers is an immense talent deserving of national attention.

Originally published in January/February 2008
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