Julie Charnet: A Pure Swinger

A review of Philadelphia vocalist Julie Charnet

While Philadelphia-based vocalist Julie Charnet is a combination blues shouter and jazz-oriented straight-ahead swinger, but what really sets her apart is her purity of tone and delivery. You'll hear no licks or blues clichés from Charnet, rather, the influences of artists like Jackie Cain, Mary Ann McCall. Rosemary Clooney, and Ella Fitzgerald, when the First Lady sang "straight," sans scatting.

Making the experience of listening to Charnet even more special is her great time, ability to swing, joyous sense of humor, and most importantly, letter-perfect enunciation. Too often these days, a song's message is lost, simply because the lyric can't be understood.

The repertoire is an eclectic one, comprised of standards like "Almost Like Being in Love" and It's Only a Paper Moon" coupled with famed blues opuses like "Fine and Mellow."

In a music world where quartets are being replaced by trios, trios are replaced by duos and duos are replaced by one-person bands with a Karaoke box, Charnet is insistent upon working with a quartet, comprised of (a real) bass, drums, keyboard and usually tenor saxophone. And during the duration of her Saturday night appearances at Tavern 17, a cozy space within the Radisson Warwick Hotel, she's hired the cream of area players, including horn men Larry McKenna, Bootsie Barnes and Victor North; pianists Tom Lawton and Jim Holton; a number of bassists including Kenny Davis; husband Jon Ball and Eddie Moore on drums.

The night I attended, players on the stand were Victor North, Eddie Moore, Kenny Davis and Jim Holton, and they were given more than ample time to blow, in a swinging and inventive, post-bop style. Charnet, to her credit, does not hog the limelight. The band gets as much time as she does, which is a rarity.

Those less-than humorous jokes about "chick singers" that used to be heard in the band room simply don't apply to Julie Charnet. The way it's presented, she's one of the band. And the band is darn good.

Charnet is a refreshing swinger who deserves to be heard more often, in Philadelphia and beyond. For more information on Julie Charnet, visit her web site at www.JulieCharnet.com.

Add a Comment

You need to log in to comment on this article. No account? No problem!

  • Email E-mail
  • Share Share
  • Rss RSS
  • Report Report

Community Authors

Bruce Klauber