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01/25/12

Mitchel Forman
Sing Along With Mitch
Marsis Jazz

Across a multi-decade career that has included work with Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Phil Woods and Freddie Hubbard, pianist Mitchel Forman has also aligned himself with such top-tier vocalists as Mel Tormé, Astrud Gilberto, Janis Siegel and Diane Schuur. But for this duets project, Forman focuses primarily on lesser-known and emerging jazz singers. Among them, only Tierney Sutton, contributing an ethereal “Turning Into Blue” and a magnificent, roiling “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?,” is a marquee name.

The remaining six are an eclectic bunch, extending from twentysomething Lizzy Loeb (daughter of singer Carmen Cuesta and guitarist Chuck Loeb, a frequent Forman collaborator) to Robbie Wyckoff, currently teamed with Roger Waters for multiple overseas tours, and Gia Ciambotti, a member of the post-Go-Go’s girl group the Graces. The tracks are equally wide-ranging, both in terms of source material—Cat Stevens and the Carpenters alongside Billie Holiday and Truman Capote—and quality.

Sutton aside, best are Wyckoff’s soulful “People Get Ready,” Ciambotti’s vivid take on Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and a choir-boy beautiful rendition of “God Bless the Child” by Arnold McCuller (best known for his supporting roles on James Taylor and Phil Collins hits). Weakest are a vociferous “A Sleepin’ Bee” and an overly derivative “I Won’t Last a Day Without You,” both from Joy Burnworth, whose history suggests greater comfort with rock-oriented settings.

Originally published in January/February 2012
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