In an age when so many jazz vocalists make up the fabric of new releases coming out, what makes a vocal album standout above the crowded field? Is it originals compositions, is it witty arrangements or is simply the way the artist delivers the lyric. If it were only that easy…What makes a vocalist shine is the way she or he can move the listener when they are telling the story of the lyric. Sometimes over ornamentation can fray or distort the beauty of the lyrical message being conveyed within a classic standard or the new message being sold in an original composition. Overall, vocal releases dominate the sales statistics in the marketplace, but it takes a true artisan to convey a believable mix of all the right elements.
Such is the case with vocalist Kate Reid, pedigreed properly with schooling all the way to her Doctorate, she is much more than just an educator; she is a seasoned veteran performer. Equally talented as a pianist, her phrasing reveals how she hears the lyric as not only a vocalist but an instrumentalist that clearly understands the value of the language of jazz. Her ability to lead the listener to conviction is a key selling point for Reid’s newest release The Love I’m In.
Backed by a solid rhythm section of Steve Barnes (drums) and Chris Conner (bass) the ensemble is rounded out by Ernie Watts (tenor sax), and husband Steve Reid (trumpet) with special guest Otmaro Ruiz on piano for tracks 5, 9 and 11.
Highlights include a double time feel of “The Lamp is Low” with an eight note pulse that relaxes into a quarter note pulse that gives the cut a nice variance and texture change. A beautifully delivered ballad “Where Do You Start” is certainly a nice way to introduce the listener to one of Reid’s best attributes, the ability to convey a ballad with feeling, pitch and control. One of the vocal trademarks of excellence, and Reid is up to the task; she caresses the lyric and draws the listener into the emotion of the story line without overdoing vocal histrionics to prove she has every technique at her disposal. Reid is a true storyteller who truly gets the notion it’s about the delivery as well as the message. Her maturity shows, and it’s a delight to witness.
“Something Good,” a wonderful childhood memory from the Sound of Music, is given a playful treatment. You can almost hear Reid smile as she sings. Her scatting is spot on, good rhythm and she doesn’t turn the beat around and scats perfectly in the pocket. Her choice of notes flows with ease. Husband Steve Reid is featured on this cut, his crisp horn lines cut through and his notes ring true.
“Nobody Else But Me” features and intro with bassist Chris Conner and Reid exposed vocally. She dips and rises through tensioned jazz lines. The ensemble joins the mix after the statement of the melody and tenor sax man Ernie Watts negotiates through the changes with long flowing lines.
The Love I’m In is an excellent follow up to Sentimental Mood, furthering the artistry and exploration of discography, Kate Reid delivers a stunning result and a disc certainly worth adding to your vocal jazz collection, most likely at the top of the stack.
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