Ballads From The Black Sea
Russian producer-impresario George Avakian, cultural bias blinders squarely covering his eyes, declares this Russian emigre "The finest new voice I've heard in a quarter century..." Well George, from a standpoint of ballad singing Datevik is certainly a contender, though there are other measuring sticks for declaring finery. First heard and seen widely on BET's Jazz Discovery program, it's nice to see someone from that worthy showcase make the leap to a recording label. And Datevik has certainly made strides, if not leaps, from where she was at that point.
She's blessed with a throaty contralto that fares best in ballad form, as with her dreamy rendering of Thad Jones' classic "A Child Is Born." The ballad form displays how she lets the chords breathe, the mark of the classic balladeer. Uptempo she doesn't fare quite as well, as evidenced by her straining on certain passages to make "My Favorite Things." It's almost like the uptempo pieces are bridges to reach the next ballad on the record. The cast is strong, with countryman Igor Butman on tenor sax, producer Larry Willis on piano, Andy McCloud on bass and Shirley Horn's guy Steve Williams on drums.