Ruth Cameron: First Songs

Part of the pleasure of listening to jazz is just when you think you’ve got it figured out, something fresh emerges. First Songs is Ruth Cameron’s coming out party and the seven tunes prove excellent for her intimate lyricism. It’s too bad the recording only gives us twenty-six minutes of it. Bassist Charlie Haden (who also co-produced the recording), drummer Larance Marable, and pianist Chris Dawson provide excellent support throughout. Cameron gives Abbey Lincoln’s “Bird Alone” a lovely reading, and the scope of her range is evident on “The Night We Called It a Day.” The recording’s highlight, though, is Frank Loesser’s “On a Slow Boat to China,” which finds the group laying a lilting carpet under Cameron’s swing lyricism.